Karen Rose Smith Welcomes Donna Fasano and Her Cover Reveal

The Merry-Go-Round
by Donna Fasano
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 2, 2009

When Lauren divorces her husband, she has one thought on her mind...stepping off the merry-go-round. However, her life quickly turns into a three-ring circus: her hypochondriac father moves in, her ex is using her shower when she’s not home, and her perky assistant is pushing her out into the fearsome dating world. She also has to decide if the dilapidated barn and vintage merry-go-round she was awarded in the divorce settlement is a blessing or a bane. As if Lauren’s personal life isn't chaotic enough, this slightly jaded attorney is overrun with a cast of quirky characters who can’t stay on the right side of the law. What’s a woman to do? She can allow life to spin her in circles forever. Or she can reach out and grab the brass ring.

What are you working on now? 
I’m currently writing two projects at once. I've never done this before, and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it. I’m writing a Christmas Novella entitled Almost Perfect Christmas, the story of man who enlists the help of a woman in giving his daughter a perfect Christmas. Unbeknownst to him, his little girl has every intention of playing an angelic matchmaker. The other project is the first book of a 3-book series called Following His Heart, the story of a man who is eerily drawn to a woman, and after they fall in love, they discover what brought them together, and it just might tear them apart. Yes, the description is vague, but that’s just the way it has to be for now. I’m chuckling as I type this. Both books are contemporary romance novels and are due out this fall.

What are you reading now or what do you have in your TBR pile? 
I just finished Learning to Swim by Sara Henry. I’m currently reading Love Me Tender by Mimi Barbour. On my TBR pile you’ll find A Reluctant Hero by Jackie Weger, Creatus by Carmen DeSousa, The Neighbor by Dean Koontz, Three Junes by Julia Glass, One Way or Another by Elaine Raco Chase…should I go on?

What flavor is your writing style?
I always tell people I write cotton candy for the mind. Think back to when you were a kid and you took a bite of that delectable confection. What did you do? You smiled. That’s what I’m going for in my romance novels.

Was writing always the first thing you wanted to do in life?
No, I wanted to be a teacher, but then I met and fell in love with my husband. We married and began raising a family. It wasn't until my children started school that I started writing.

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters? 
I believe there’s a lot of me in my protagonists. I write about women who are strong, yet vulnerable. My main characters and my secondary characters have flaws and make mistakes (don’t we all?), but then most of them do all they can to learn, grow and become better people.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
One piece of advice I often give to writers is to READ. Don’t just read in the genre in which you write. Read everything. And then figure out what you liked and what you didn't…and then think about why. Reading and analyzing the writing of talented people can help you perfect your own skills.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
I bow down to readers! I am so appreciative that they spend their hard-earned money on my books and then take the time to read my stories. I am so blessed to have a job I love, and I wouldn't have this job if there weren't readers who love romance novels.

What inspired you to write your first book? 
I came to writing through my love of reading. I spent many a Saturday as a kid in the local library. I loved books, but I never imagined I would ever write one. My husband gets the credit for my becoming a writer. When my children started school and I decided to find a part-time job, he looked around at the piles of romance novels in our home and said, “You've read a lot of those. Why don’t you try writing one?” So, you see. It’s all his fault.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
Not my latest book, but one of my titles—Where’s Stanley?—features an ending that I didn't come up with. I handed in the completed manuscript, and my editor suggested a different ending. I wasn't happy, but I did as she asked. Personally, I think the book suffered for it, but readers seem to enjoy it.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
Old Yeller, Sounder, The Bell Jar, To Kill a Mockingbird…how can people read these books and not be influenced? There are so many titles that inspired me and moved me, molded and shaped me, there isn't time to name them all. The characters in these wonderful books help young readers to decide what kind of individual they want to be.

Do you ever experience writer's block? 
There was a time when I’d have said no. I have a plant-your-butt-in-the-chair-and-the-words-will-come attitude. But I did suffer writer’s block while my dad was battling cancer. It’s difficult to write feel-good happily-ever-after when your beloved father is dying.

Do you write an outline before every book you write?
I do, yes. I equate an outline with a road made; how do you know where you’re going if you don’t have a map? I might write the first chapter or two on the fly, but I always take the time to plan out where I want the story to go. Now that’s not to say that the characters are going to stay on the straight and narrow. They decide to veer off the highway every now and then, and that’s when I have to do a quick reroute.

Have you ever disliked something you wrote? 
I've never published anything that I disliked. I have started projects that haven’t seen the light of day, either because I couldn't figure out where to take the story, or I couldn't make the protagonist sympathetic or likable. It’s a rare occurrence, and when it happens, I just set the story aside and hope I can someday come up with a solution.

USA Today Bestselling Author Donna Fasano has written over 30 romance and women's fiction books that have sold 4 million copies worldwide. Look for Ehefrau auf Zeit (German Edition) due out September 16th, published by Amazon Crossing, and the first novel of the brand new 3-book Ocean City Boardwalk Series called Following His Heart, due to be released at the end of October.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Beauty in the End of Summer #Gardens by Karen Rose Smith

This has been an unusual summer in Pennsylvania.  August has almost seemed like fall.  Instead of extreme heat, we're having cooler temperatures at night.  These are the flowers that are doing well at the end of the summer--zinnias, sunflowers, geraniums and snap dragons.  I thought you'd enjoy these wonderful bursts of color as much as I do.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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How To Create Memorable Characters by Karen Rose Smith

When I plot a new book, I try to create characters my readers can relate to.  My main characters must have likable qualities along with their foibles so that the reader wants to cheer for them and hope the best for them.  This are my go-to points when I'm starting to create a new novel.

I choose a strong background that will affect who my character is and how he or she sees life.

For example, if your hero is a former Marine, he had motivation to serve his country.  I focus on that.  I also focus on his training because that colors how he sees the world, how he reacts when startled, how he sleeps, how he organizes his belongings, how he problem-solves.

If I create a heroine who lost her parents and was shuffled into the foster care system, she will most likely have trust issues, fear of abandonment and, therefore, she will protect her heart.

I like to give my characters life-long passions.

I've written about heroines who are doctors, music therapists, horse lovers.  Whatever led them into their profession colors how they think and react.  Music was an escape for my heroine who was a music therapist. So I use music imagery in her descriptions and the way she thinks...especially about love.  My sleuth is a home stager.  From an early age, she enjoyed mixing colors and styles of furniture.  She also takes in stray animals and her love for animals and her compassion colors how she treats humans, too!  If your hero hikes for a hobby, that face-the wilderness passion will charge his goals and his passion.  He might be adventurous in his business dealings.

I create family bonds.

If your hero has sisters, that can affect his reactions to women, his understanding of their motives and fears.  If your heroine has brothers, maybe she was a tag-along, or a tomboy in order to earn the respect of her brother and his friends.  If your characters" parents have a happy marriage they will look at a relationship as a forever possibility.  On the other hand, if parents divorced, that could create a negative rather than positive view of marriage.

Everyone has personality quirks!

We all have idiosyncrasies.  Maybe my sleuth likes Beatles music and sings along with their music in her car.  Maybe my hero drinks a cup of coffee in the morning as he watches the sunrise.  I try to come up with a history for why they have quirks and habits.  I like to weave their backstory around the present story so nothing is random.

Speaking of  romantic history...

My characters have had former romantic relationships that reveal why the hero or heroine might be afraid of commitment.  On the other hand, this past history has also taught my characters something about love and loving.  Whatever they learned or felt will fuel the conflict in their romantic relationship now.  Romantic history fuels tension and creates impediments to finding a significant other.

What about physical perfection?

A model will have a different view of life than a heroine with a port wine stain of her face.  A hero with war injuries will look at himself differently than a man in buff shape.  I try to give my characters distinctive physical characteristics--deep tan, long waist, brown hair with blond strands, a scar above a brow.

Creating characters is an awesome experience.  I try to use every detail in his or her past to give details in their life now a purpose.  I try to create "real" people with hearts, souls, and a mindfulness of who they are. I hope this makes my characters memorable.


©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Observations On Newborn #Kittens, The First Twelve Days by Karen Rose Smith

Taking in a stray and caring for her during her pregnancy and delivery has been quite an experience!  I feel like a new mom again.  You can read about the birth of Halo's kittens here.

The Birth of Halo's Kittens

The kittens will be two weeks old this week.  Momma Halo is taking wonderful care of them.  They come first for her.  Because of digestive problems of her own, we feed Halo every two hours until 10 p.m.  My husband or I get up to feed her at 5 a.m. She only left the nesting bin (an under-the-bed storage bin) to use the litter box the first week.  Now and then when we come into the room (we have them secluded in my office because we have 3 other cats), she will be laying outside the bin when the babies are sleeping.  Sometimes she doesn't finish eating if one of the babies calls her, and we feed her in the bin.

The first week we weighed the babies every day to make sure they were gaining weight.  On day 12 first born weighs 9.5 ounces (he had trouble latching on at first), 2nd born weighs 10.1 ounces, 3rd born weighs 10.2 ounces.  They have all doubled their birth weight.  I'm using receiving blankets in the nesting bin because they are flat and soft and the kittens claws won't get caught in them. We had one episode where Halo tried to move the kittens because we used a Chlorox wipe in her vicinity.  When the babies are born, they are deaf and blind and all momma and kittens have is their sense of smell to guide them to each other.  We arranged a bigger bin across the room and fortunately Halo took to it, accepting her babies there.  For this reason, we change the receiving blanket every other day.  Before we do, we make sure her scent is on it.

The first week we kept the room at 79-80 degrees and they all seemed comfortable.  The kittens body temperature can't regulate itself.  From what I've read, that starts at about 2 weeks.  After this second week, we'll begin lowering the temperature to around 75 degrees.

Days 2-3 Umbilical cord                     fell off

Days 1-9  Ate, slept and                      gained weight

Days 9-10  Eyes began to                                                 open

Days 11-12 Trying to walk on wobbly legs and getting around                         the bin better
                    Laying in a pinwheel rather than a heap and                                 showing their own personalities   
Day 12  More aware of their siblings
              First attempts at washing themselves
              They lay apart sometimes instead of in a heap for                         warmth

We've been fortunate that Halo is such a good Momma.  Because of her digestive issues, I was concerned the babies wouldn't thrive.  I poach chicken breast for her every day, grind it up with rice and mix in broth. When we feed her, we also mix in a little pumpkin and kitten food.  We adjust the kitten food according to how she reacts each day.  I'm so pleased the kittens have gained so well.  They don't cry between feedings unless she has stepped out of the bin and they miss her and get hungry.

This experience is one I'll cherish.  We're hoping to find forever loving homes for the kittens when they're about 12 weeks old.  Yes, I'm already attached.  But we'll take each day as it comes and watch them grow in Halo's protective care.  I'll post another blog in about another week so my readers can see how they've grown.

Search For Love Boxed Set One

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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What Readers Do And Don't Like To See In Cozy #Mysteries by Karen Rose Smith

I asked readers what they do and don't like to see in cozy mysteries. 

Here is the list!


A touch of sweet romance
Relationships between characters
A puzzle to be solved
A villain who is difficult to spot
A picturesque town
Unusual characters


Lots of gore
Erotic sex
A mystery solved too easily
Surface characters without any description or depth
The murder of a favorite or "nice" character

If you have any ideas about points to add to either list, feel free to leave a comment!  I like hearing from my readers and I take your ideas into consideration.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Halo, Our Stray #Cat, And The Birth Of Her #Kittens by Karen Rose Smith

I've been around cats and kitties all my life.  I remember finding baby kittens in the barn behind hay bales and watching them grow.  But I'd never been a cat mid-wife before...or witnessed the miracle of the birth.

Halo took a nap in our yard on Mother's Day and our relationship progressed from there.  After weeks of patiently sitting by while we fed her, she came to trust me and my husband.

Blog: Taking in a Stray Pregnant Cat -- Halo is her Name

Blog: Halo--A Mama Cat in Waiting

After a visit to our local vet and later to the emergency vet (she had digestive problems and I was afraid she was dehydrated), we found out she was indeed pregnant and brought her inside.  A special diet of ground rice and chicken with some pumpkin put her on the road to recovery for her and her kittens.  I read everything I could find on a pregnant cat and the delivery and birth of kittens.  But the best laid plans...

Unlike the article I read, she ate normally up until the births.  I had set up two bins for nesting and she had been visiting both of them.  She chose the one under my desk which was the darkest and quietest place. Everyone told me, including the vets, that the process was a natural one and we shouldn't have to intervene, but--

Mama in waiting next to one of the queening beds.

Mama in waiting
Halo meowed, went into her bin and in no time at all, the first baby was being born.  The sac was already broken and she cleaned the newborn quickly.  The second and third sacs were delivered quickly too, only we could see one of the sacs held an underdeveloped stillborn.  We removed that and she immediately licked her second live kitty out of the sac.  But...the placenta wan't delivered.  I waited half an hour and then called the emergency vet.  I knew the placenta couldn't stay inside because it would make Halo sick.  The ER vet was terrific on the phone and talked my husband and I through tugging gently on the placenta to draw it out.  We had to be very careful because that could cause a tear in Halo's uterus.  Fortunately it came out.

Halo and her first born kitten

Halo and her second born

Again, with everything I read, the babies were supposed to be sucking within the hour, but they weren't. Another call to the vet and she told us to give it a few hours.  However, four hours later, Halo delivered her third live kitty.  She was worn out and we had to help break the sac.  She slowly took over licking the baby. But again the placenta wasn't delivered.  After another half hour and gentle tugging, the baby was squealing because it was still attached.  I called our local vet and she told us to bring everyone in right away.  The placenta was delivered and she gave Halo an injection of Oxytocin.

Halo was totally stressed out and I was concerned she would no longer accept her kittens after being handled by us and the vet.  But she gathered them to her and we left her alone, checking on her often.  Two of the babies latched on and began suckling.  Her first born couldn't seem to get the hang of it.  I had prepared kitten formula.  After putting some on his lip and one of Halo's nipples and guiding him, he finally started suckling about ten hours after the birth.

The kittens are five days old now, and have gained over an ounce each.  They are growing before our eyes and are truly a miracle.

Halo and her kittens at four days

©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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Twenty Years With My Agent by Karen Rose Smith

My agent and I have been working together for 20 years.  Evan Marshall and I have been through thick, thin and everything in between through contracts for over 80 books.  He has the best public relation skills of anyone I know.

I first met Evan Marshall of the Evan Marshall Agency back in 1988 when I was unpublished and searching for my first agent.  I attended  the Washington Romance Writers Conference in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and managed an appointment with him.  He impressed me that day by reading one of my synopses and giving me pointers.  He was easy to talk to and had a way of listening that I liked.  He did not accept me as a client then.  I did find an agent at that conference.  But when she and I parted ways in 1994, I remembered Evan and found the business card that I'd saved.

In the summer of 1994, the Romance Writers of America had their conference in New York City.  By then, I was published with two houses and had five published romances under my belt.  I made coffee meetings with three agents, asking them all my list of questions.  I had contacted them and sent them one of my novels ahead of time.  Evan Marshall was the one who stood out, the one who'd actually read one of my romances.  He said, "I love your work and want to represent you."  He didn't want to represent one book, but the career that lay ahead of me.  We began our association that summer and it has been successful and lasted for all these years.

Evan "gets me" and my work and what I want to accomplish.  He always has.  When I'm going through a difficult patch, he helps me keep an even keel and do what's best for my career, not what's best for the moment.  Because of him, I have branched out from contemporary romance into mystery the past two years and I'm so glad I did.  I don't know where my career will lead.  But I'm booked with writing contracts for the next few years.

If you are searching for an agent, look for that person who understands you, your work and what you want to accomplish...not just for today but for the years ahead.

Award-winning and best-selling author Karen Rose Smith will see her 86th novel published in 2015. Although she has written romance novels for over twenty years, she has now branched into mysteries as well as women's fiction. Writing for Kensington Books, Harlequin and indie publishing her Search For Love series, she still saves time for her four rescue cats, gardening, cooking and photography. She has also developed many of her books into audiobooks! She looks forward to contact from her readers through her websites and loves to chat on Facebook (KarenRoseSmithBooks) and Twitter @karenrosesmith. DEADLY DÉCOR, book two of her Caprice De Luca home-staging mystery series, is available now.  Book three, GILT BY ASSOCIATION, will be released in February 2015.


©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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