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Sunday, April 4, 2010 @ 03:04 AM Karen Hood

Published by Spokane Valley News Herald

for Arts and More dated January 21, 2005

as written by Craig Howard

Whispering Pine Press International, Inc. plants roots, branches out.

At the end of each day, Karen Jean Matsko Hood typically finds herself looking around for more hours.

Put aside the fact that Matsko Hood started her own publishing company, Whispering Pine Press International, Inc., over five years ago, and takes on an ambitious writing schedule that now includes about 30 books in progress.

As the mother of 12 kids, and advocate for the rights of abused and neglected children, and a student working on her PH.D., at Gonzaga University, Matsko Hood handles it all with the grace of an acrobat.

Even when she is at the writing table, Matsko Hood admits she moves from one topic to the next like most people would approach a buffet table.  One of the reasons, she says, is to make sure serious subjects, like domestic violence don’t weigh her down.

Her poetry, with an emphasis on nature, serves as a respite.  She has been published in roughly 60 national and international poetry publications.

“I swing back and forth between heavy projects and focusing on the beauty of the area,” she said.

Up to this point, Whispering Pine Press International, Inc. has released Matsko Hood’s work in all its variety.  Now, the publishing company is reaching out to local authors with ideas related to family-oriented themes.

“The purpose of starting the company was to be creative in a local niche market,” Matsko Hood said.  “We want to make it clear that we welcome other authors and poets.”

Getting the word out about publishing opportunities is just one of Matsko Hood’s priorities.  She works with neglected and abused children through Spokane County’s Court Appointed Special Advocate program and speaks out on the widespread need for foster parents.

Matsko Hood and her husband, James, have five biological kids, ten adopted children, and one foster child.

“Most people don’t know the huge need – the shortage of foster homes.”  Matsko Hood said.

After having a number of books in the pipeline for years, the press is now starting to secure contracts with distributors.  Several Whispering Pines editions are available at local retailers, like Auntie’s Bookstore and Kauter’s.

Dan O’Connell, marketing assistant with the company, said it’s all a matter of getting the word out.

“These are great books but they get lost in the storm,” he said.  “We’re trying to get our books noticed.”  The company has earned high praise for its recipe books, a number of which focus on specific foods like tomatoes, peaches, or strawberries.  Matsko Hood, who has collected recipes for 20 years, is nearing completion on a collection of Valentine’s recipes as the holiday approaches.

A tour around the Whispering Pine office, on Sullivan Road, finds stacks of books and items representing the eclectic nature of Matsko Hood’s work.  There are cooking manuals and bilingual coloring books, jars of huckleberry jam, and a holiday memories scrapbook for kids.

The author – who went through her share of disappointment when first trying to find a publisher – talks about how the current publishing environment looks for “a quick read.”

“The challenge is trying to make reading fascinating for people on the go,” she said.

When it comes to dealing with the frustration of rejection, Matsko Hood said authors need to stay positive and forge on.

“Keep writing,” she said.  “You have to love it because you don’t know how it’s going to work out.”

Spokane Valley News Herald

523 N. Pines Rd.

Spokane Valley, WA 99206

Phone: (509) 924-2440

Fax: (509) 927-1164