SENECA — When Carol Englehaupt’s husband was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t know what to do.
She feared for her family’s financial future, but couldn’t get a job because she is the full-time caretaker of her 32-year-old son, Josh, who is disabled with cerebral palsy.
But she’d always had a passion for writing; she’d read voraciously and penned stories since age 15. Perhaps it was time to kickstart the writing career she’d always wanted.
She got involved with the Write Team in Ottawa, writing slice-of-life pieces for an Internet-based community newspaper. She freelanced a piece on massage therapy as treatment for cerebral palsy to “Massage and Bodywork” magazine.
And now, under the pen name C.L. Roth, she has just independently released her first novel, “Cosmic Shift,” the first entry in a young adult fantasy series she hopes will empower kids to believe in themselves.
“I want children to go after their dreams without worrying about whether they’re good enough,” Englehaupt said. “I’m very passionate about empowering children.”
The novel tells the story of a 13-year-old boy whose summer is turned upside down by the arrival of “dimensional renegades fleeing cosmic hunters,” an idea she got while talking to her nephew, who was looking to fill the void left by the conclusion to the Harry Potter series.
“It’s a fun adventure story,” she said. “Ideas come easily to me.”
“Where I find difficulty is in staying focused,” she added.
She’ll have to overcome that to achieve the ambitious goal she’s set for herself: to release six books by the end of 2014.
To meet that number, Englehaupt keeps a strict 5:30 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. writing schedule she terms “my time.”
“You have to schedule the writing in like it’s a job, because it is,” she said.
he rest of the day fills up quickly. Her son, disabled and unable to speak, has nevertheless begun to find success as a painter, recently selling a number of works and looking forward to an appearance at an art show at Plainfield High School in April.
Josh has his own painting schedule — two hours each afternoon — that requires his mother’s help. For Josh to paint, his mother must hold his arm up to the canvas while he uses a modified brush.
It’s work for both of them, but work Carol Englehaupt seems glad to do.
“Josh puts his heart and soul into his artwork,” she said. “I think he and I have a story and a message.”
That message: go for it, regardless of the obstacles.
“I’ve gone through a lot of challenges in my life,” Englehaupt said. “But it’s taught me not to listen to voices other than my own.”
Advised Englehaupt, “Jump for the stars and enjoy the leap.”