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Newcastle English teacher publishes first novel

Joyner ‘s coming-of-age story set in Oklahoma

Newcastle high school teacher Kari Joyner is very proud of her first book. Joyner is a tenth-grade English teacher. She was able to get her first novel published in March.

“It’s been about two months now since it was published and it’s doing really well,” Joyner said. “I’m super excited and it’s doing better than I even hoped for. They say when you are an unknown author, you can’t expect much. But, this is beyond my expectations. It’s doing really well and I’m just tickled about it.”

The book is titled, “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” It is a 285-page novel that is a coming-of-age story about a young girl in the late 1960’s and early 70’s finding her way in this world despite the crazy obstacles she faces along the way.

Kate Bloom is a 14-year-old girl in the book. It is a coming-of-age story about her trying to come to grips in a household with her sisters and her mother always trying to mess up things.

“It is a serious story,” Joyner said. “I tried to add some lighter things to it. But, it is a serious story and not a children’s book.

“I wanted to tell this story because I wanted to show the world that you can grow up in a tough situation, but still have great memories,” she added. “I also wanted to create characters that are neither 100-percent bad nor good; they’re just human.”

Joyner is pleased with the results of her book. She has had many reviews on Amazon and other places that speak highly of her first novel.

“This book was truly a labor of love,” Joyner said. “I poured my heart and soul into writing this for the enjoyment of my readers , and I have been truly humbled by the outpouring of support and accolades that I have received thus far. I can’t keep the books in stock.”

A person might wonder, “What brought Joyner to Newcastle?” She explained that it was basically a family thing.

“My brother-in-law got a job here in Newcastle about 20 years ago,” Joyner said. “His name is Chance Scott and he teaches at the high school. My sister and I are really close. For years, I kept my eye out for a job in Newcastle and I was going to try and get it. We lived in Norman for a while and I was just waiting to see if I could get closer to my sister.

So, now we live in the same town.”

Joyner was born and raised in Wewoka, Okla., which is why she chose this small, rural town as the backdrop for her novel. She remembers her hometown fondly as, “The best place in the world to grow up.” Joyner didn’t stray far from home after graduating from Wewoka High School in 1994.

She went on to earn her teaching degree at East Central University in Ada. She has since settled in Newcastle with her husband Mike and their five children. Joyner (44) teaches and writes as often as possible in her spare time.

Joyner, of course, is out of school at the moment due to the Coronavirus pandemic. She didn’t think the school year would end on such a dramatic note as it did back in March.

“This is my fourth year at Newcastle,” Joyner said. “I’m shocked about how this virus has affected our community and the state, the country, and the whole world. When we were told we weren’t going back to school until after spring break, I was like ‘What? No way!’

“One of the teachers I work with is from New Jersey and her family still lives there. She kept telling me how bad it was there. She said they have closed the schools down for the rest of the year there. I said, ‘That’s not going to happen here.’ Sure enough, our schools closed soon after. I think this is my 16th year of teaching. I absolutely never thought anything like this could ever happen.”

Graduating senior Taryn O’Brien will be attending East Central this fall. She was an instrumental player on the 2019 Class 4A state champion softball team coached by Mike Crossley as were McKenzie Wagoner (who is going to Liberty University in Virginia), Kelsey Housely (NWOSU), and Maebree Robertson (Seminole State College.)

“I loved my time at East Central,” Joyner remembered. “Knowing that Taryn is going to East Central is quite special to me because I was one of her teachers. I was at the congratulatory assembly program for the girls’ softball team last fall and when they kept on announcing the names of the players who were going to play college softball, I was flabbergasted! That’s impressive.”

Joyner was a cheerleader, a band member, and ran track in high school at Wewoka. She knows about the balance that athletes need to have with their academics. She also knows how different high school sports are these days.

“We would march at halftime in our cheerleading uniforms,” Joyner remembered. “We also had football players who would march in their football uniforms. I didn’t know that was a weird thing until I became a teacher.

“Kids have told me over the years that at bigger schools, you should pick one thing and concentrate on that one thing - and it makes sense. But, we were a tiny school back then. I graduated with just 32 kids.”

Joyner has already started planning for her second book. After her first successful effort at writing a novel, she should have an easier time with the next one.

“I’m going to do all I can to promote this first book of mine,” Joyner said. “I’m making notes for my second book. It only took about five months to write the first book. Since I am an ‘unknown’ author, it took me two years to find someone to publish it.

“That process was harder than writing the book. I thought at first that I would write a book and then get it published immediately. That’s not the case. I had to learn the hard way about that. It was definitely worth it, though.”

The book “Bloom Where You’re Planted“ is the first novel nationally published by Newcastle 10th-grade English teacher Kari Joyner. It has been selling very well on Amazon and other websites. Her book can be purchased online at www.amazon.com/dp/B08641J1P3. It’s an excellent 285-page novel about a 14-year-old girl growing up in Wewoka, Okla., and has earned glowing reviews so far for 44-year-old Newcastle author, who happens to be from Wewoka.

Set in rural Oklahoma in the 1970s, this coming-of-age narrative about Kate and her sisters surviving their alcoholic mother is a heartbreaking and yet irreverently funny emotional roller coaster told in a straightforward fashion that will keep its readers hooked until the very last page.

“I wanted to tell this story because I wanted to show the world that you can grow up in a tough situation, but still have great memories.”

The Newcastle Pacer

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