Karla Wheeler grew up in Philadelphia and later lived in Ontario, finally relocating to Naples, in 1989. One of the Press Club of Southwest Florida’s founding members, Wheeler currently serves on the NPC Board of Governors as membership chair.
A lover of the pen and printed word and as an outgrowth of her personal and career experiences, today Wheeler keeps busy managing and writing for her Quality of Life Publishing Company that specializes in publications geared to those patients and families facing end of life issues, including hospice care.
We caught up with Wheeler to find out more.
Press Club of Southwest Florida: How did you discover your talent for writing?
Karla Wheeler: I have always loved writing. I used to joke that I am sure I was born with a pen in my hand. It was in eighth grade that I realized that I had a natural knack for writing non-fiction when I won a citywide essay contest held for all students in Philadelphia schools.
NPC: In what areas have you written?
KW: I was a newspaper reporter and editor in Canada, then a founding editor of a business magazine and lifestyle magazine. Once I relocated to Naples, I served as editor of national U.S. physician journals (geriatrics and cardiology). As an outgrowth of my personal and professional experience with hospice care, I began specializing in writing about end-of-life care issues through my Quality of Life Publishing Co., founded in 1999.
NPC: Are you a published author?
KW: Years ago, I wrote three gentle grief support books: “Afterglow: Signs of Continued Love,” “Heart-Shaped Pickles” and “Timmy’s Christmas Surprise.”
NPC: What has been your most notable accomplishment in the field?
KW: Being lucky enough to be able to transform my passion for compassionate end-of-life care into a growing niche publishing firm, which publishes dozens of booklets and newsletters to help hospices ease the way for patients and families. Five immediate family members, including my 54-year-old husband, have experienced a “good death,” thanks to hospice care. It warms my heart and soul to know that I can “pay it forward” through Quality of Life Publishing Co.’s outreach.
NPC: Who is your favorite fiction and non-fiction author and book title?
KW: I belong to a book club, so I read quite a variety of novels. My favorite non-fiction author is the Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, who writes so simply – yet profoundly – about how to live in the present moment. In recent months, I have been re-reading his life-changing book, “Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.”
NPC: What do you consider the greatest book ever written?
KW: For me, it’s the book I’m reading at the time. That book is either entertaining me, educating me, transforming my thinking, or touching the very fiber of my soul. Each book is such a gift at the time and seems like the greatest book ever.
NPC: What advice would you give to a writer wishing to break into the field?
KW: Whenever possible, write about topics that motivate and inspire you. Remember that all of us experience writer’s block. Acknowledge it, honor it, don’t beat yourself up when it happens, and even laugh about it if you can. It is simply part of the process; and all writers know that writing is a process, not an event.
NPC: What is something people don’t know about you?
KW: My grandmother taught me to play Scrabble when I was five years old. My favorite hobby is playing online Scrabble, where I compete avidly in worldwide tournaments.