#Mystery and #Cozy Mega Giveaway including Karen Rose Smith, Laura Childs, Jenn McKinlay, Leann Sweeney...


Lisa K's Mega Author Giveaway!!!!

Read all about it....

41 Authors...48 Prizes...48 Winners
Over 80 chances to win!
This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only
The Mega Giveaway will run until April 28 at midnight. Winners will be announced April 29.

Winners will be picked at random through Rafflecopter.
Prizes will be rewarded in the order winners are are chosen.
(First name picked wins the first prize, second name picked wins the second prize, etc.)

Read the list of authors and prizes and ENTER at Lisa K's blog (link below).

Victoria Abbott
Ellery Adams
Connie Archer
Beverly ALlen
Jennie Bentley
Laurien Berenson
Susan Bernhardt
Duffy Brown
Mollie Cox Bryan
Leslie Budewitz
Lucy BUrdette
Kate Carlisle
Elizabeth Lynn Casey
Erika Chase
Laura Childs
Barbara Jean Coast
Peg Cockran
Kate Collin
Cleo Coyle
Leighann Dobbs
Daryl Wood Gerber
Victoria Hamilton
Mary Ellen Hughes
Jule Hyzy
Sue Ann Jaffarian
Kylie Logan
Molly MacRae
Mary Marks
Jenn McKinlay
Laura Morrigan
Liz Mugavero
Sharon Pape
Nancy J. Parra
Leigh Perry
Cat Price
Pamela Rose
Sara Rosett
Karen Rose Smith
Denise Swanson
Leann Sweeney


Read Karen's new mystery. Her sleuth, Caprice De Luca, stages houses, decorates, loves to cook and is an animal lover too!

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 

Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website 


©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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An Interview With #Narrator Natalie Gray--How She Does It by Karen Rose Smith

My narrator for RIBBONS AND RAINBOWS, Natalie Gray, gives readers,  authors and narrators a comprehensive view of her profession.  I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed learning about it.

Here is Natalie Gray.

Tell us a little about your background:  Where are you from?
I'm from Wisconsin.  Born in Green Bay and raised in a small farming community of 863 people located about 15 miles from Green Bay.  It was an excellent environment to grow up in because we learned about the land and where food came from.  How I live now was deeply influenced by growing up so close to the land.

What was your schooling?
I must have loved school, because I got two masters Degrees, both in Theatre. :) One was in theory and Criticism and one was for Acting and Directing.

How do you train to become a narrator?
The obvious way is through school or workshops or classes.  I think it's important to have a basic understanding of acting techniques.  It's imperative that you listen to other audiobook narrators (something I need to do more of myself.) The other way I think it's important to train is to simply read, read, read. If you don't love reading, then why bother narrating?  There's such joy in immersing oneself in the worlds created by all these amazing authors.  Reading, reading, reading gives such exposure to the many different styles of books out there.

What's been your experience with narrating so far?
I simply love it.  It's my dream job.  I've been very fortunate that work comes my way regularly.  I love being able to bring different authors texts to life.  It's been a wonderful experience.

What genre do you like to narrate the best?
I"m not sure, yet.  I really like romance novels, but I also adore a good fiction story and non--fiction also captivates my attention.  And truly, I love doing children's books!

Did you read a lot as a kid?  As an adult?
Yes, to both.  I'm an avid reader.

Why did you decide to begin narrating audiobooks?
It was what some people call a "godshot."  I was trying to figure out what to do with my life.  I'd been an actor for 20 years, and then taken a break to find a hubby and really make some money (I had loans to pay off from all the schooling.)  I knew I didn't want to work for anyone else and I knew I didn't want to go back to acting.  Then one day, I was looking at presenter work on the Internet, and saw an ad that invited people to become a voice-over actor.  As soon as I saw the ad, I knew that's where I was headed.  And then when someone mentioned audiobooks, I was hooked.

How do you know what voice to use for each character?
When I read a book, whether I'm going to narrate it or not, I always imagine how the characters look and sound.  When I narrate a book, I try to replicate the sound and the feel of how I hear each characters' voice.  There's more than just the sound of the voice, there's also how fast or slow the character speaks, whether they speak clearly or garble their words, where they place there voice (like is it more nasal or is it more back in the throat,) do they have an accent.  All these things go into trying to voice a character.

How do you keep them straight?
Since I see and hear each character very clearly, it's not hard to "keep them straight."  Although, if it's been awhile since I've voiced a certain character, I do sometimes go back and listen to a part of the book I've already recorded that has that character's lines in it.  This way I can remind myself of exactly how I tried to capture the voice and feel of that character.

Do you feel as if you become the characters as you narrate?
To some extent, yes, I think I do, otherwise it would be hard to get their point of view across.  No matter what kind of character I voice, I need to see the world of the story from that character's point of view.

Do you read the book before you start or narrate scene by scene?
I read the book at least once before I start.  It saves having to re-record earlier chapters because of things you might find out about characters that occur later on in the book.

What is the toughest part of narrating?
The length of time it actually takes to record a book.  If a book is 10 hours long, it means that a narrator probably has about 15-20 hours of actual speaking time.  This is because it's impossible to record everything perfectly, so there's a lot of re-takes and re-recording that happens.

How do you protect your voice?
It is very important to make sure I've warmed up my voice before recording.  I also don't give major characters voices that are too far off my own natural speaking voice, because that's very taxing.  For example, I can do a very deep-voiced or gravelly voiced man, but I'd only use something like that for a character that spoke less often.

What's involved in the process from setting up a home studio, to editing, to putting the book for sale?  How long does it take?
That's quite a question.  Setting up a home studio is something you do once, and then that's it.  It's an expensive proposition, so it's important to research it before hand, by reading industry books (the one I used to get started was "Voice Actors Guide to Recording at Home...and on the Road" by Harlan Hogan and Jeffrey P. Fisher.)  There are also online teleclasses and seminars on the subject, and just talking to other voice-over actors can be really helpful.  It took me about two weeks of really studying things and figuring out how I could make my space work to get it all together.  I wanted as professional a sound as I could get, so I spent a fair amount of money on my equipment, but definitely not as much as I COULD have spent.  It can get crazy, and there's no need to do that when you're first starting out.  For myself, the cost to get up and running was about $1500.  I know voice-over actors who have done it for a lot less.

Once you have set up a home studio, then you're ready to start looking for work.  There are many places nowadays to find work.  If you're a narrator, then ACX.com is one of the best places to be registered.  That's where I get most of my audiobook work.  It's important to have a professionally done audiobook demo.  If your sound quality is bad, I don't care how good you are as a narrator, it will be hard for you to sell yourself.
(Note from Karen--I listened to many, many, many auditions. Sometimes I really liked the voice for my hero or heroine.  But if the sound quality had any problems--like the machine going on and off, thumping noises in the background, echoes, I went on to another audition.  Those problems can be time consuming for both the narrator and author and sometimes they simply can't be fixed.  Natalie's sound quality was top-notch.)

On ACX you have a profile, which authors can find you through, and I often get offers to narrate books just from my profile.  But, you can also search for authors looking for narrators, and that process involved submitting an audition.  Once you submit your audition, it can take anywhere from 1 day to a couple of weeks to hear if you got the job or not.

Once you get a narrating job, how quickly a book is recorded, edited mastered and delivered is up to the schedule agreed upon by the narrator and the author.  On ACX, the average length of time is 30-60 days to get the book recorded, mastered and approved, and then it can be another 2-3 weeks before it gets listed for sale.  So, the process can be about 2-4 months (and often it can be longer.)

What do you look for in an author's history to sway you toward narrating their book?
I look for an author who has some success already with prior books, but mostly, I choose whether or not to narrate a book based on whether or not I like the story.  I only want to narrate audiobooks that I'd like to read.  Since I like to read a lot of different types of material, that gives me a wide range to choose from, fortunately.

What do you like to do most when  you're not narrating?
I'm super interested in the eat-local, sustainable and organic food movement.  I'm involved marginally int he politics of it, but mostly I'm involved in it through living it, which means I grow some of my own food.  I make my own kombucha (tea), I make my own sauerkraut, do a lot of freezing and preserving of fresh foods.  There's nothing on earth like the taste of a tomato right off the vine.

I also spend time with my hubby and my cat.  It's a pretty simple life, and very satisfying.

Natalie Gray's email addy: natalie@voicebynatalie.com

Natalie's Website

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Signs of #Spring in #Pennsylvania by Karen Rose Smith

After a long harsh winter in Pennsylvania, we finally have signs of spring.  The last week brought temperatures in the 60's and 70's. Just like all of us who have cabin fever, our garden plants couldn't wait to bud and bloom.  In the past few days, wonderful scents and vibrant colors are dotting our gardens, assuring us that planting season isn't far away.  We're supposed to have rain and cooler temperatures for the next week and I wanted to document these beauties before that happened.  This might be our spring before we hop into summer after the last cold spell. Our gnarled weeping cherry has just begun the blossoming process.

After my mom passed on, I planted a garden in her honor. I try to keep something blooming through the whole season.  These hyacinths are usually first to pop up.

This is a newer variety of hyacinth that is supposed to be more fragrant and fuller.  It's gorgeous.

Two tone and frilly!

Old Fashioned Bluebells

I hope your garden gives you as much pleasure as ours does.  It is my peaceful place to write or relax.  And I'm looking forward to more color and blooms.  I often post garden photos on my Facebook page along with writing news and cat pics!

©2014 Karen Rose Smith


Karen Rose Smith's romance website
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website 
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How Growing #Seedlings Is Very Much Like #Plotting by Karen Rose Smith

With the beginning of a new growing season, I've been planting tomato seeds. I concentrate on heirloom tomatoes because their flavor is supposed to be richer and sweeter. I ordered several varieties of seeds from cherry to plum to fine slicing tomatoes. What I love about the heirloom tomatoes is their history. The one I planted with the richest history and most elaborate one (Marianna's Peace), is a variety that the seedlings pop up quickly and with hardy determination. The leaves are deep green, growing with vigor. They will grow into terrific plants, with tomatoes that are pink-hued and can weigh over a pound. These seeds have been cherished, protected and promulgated since the early 1900's. Care and thought and lots of emotion have touched these tomato seeds.

Novel plots are very much like heirloom tomato seeds. An idea takes root in my mind like that tiny seed in the proper soil with the right amount of heat and light. Some ideas don't take root. They don't gather energy or germinate and no book grows. But others start with a conflict that develops into a plot or a character who generates conflict, or an issue that rolls through circumstances or a crisis that comes to a head. Suddenly conflict seems to draw light from the characters. The plot absorbs the proverbial "water" or energy from ideas generating ideas, developing into scenes, all of it uniting to produce a book. The richer the idea, the better it will grow. The more care given to the original premise, the better it will grow. The more emotion the characters generate, the further the plot is pushed. A rich storyline is rooted in the history, knowledge and research behind the plot. Plots and seeds are very much alike!

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website 

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#Cover reveal for DEADLY DECOR by Karen Rose Smith, Book 2 Caprice De Luca home staging #mystery #series

Caprice De Luca is a sleuth with personality!  She's a home-stager and likes to use unique themes for the houses she stages so they sell faster and tempt house hunters from all over to her open houses.  But Caprice herself, at thirty-two is a retro girl.  With her hair style from the 70's, her vintage clothes from the 50's and 60's, and her gravitation toward unique pieces, her home reflects her likes and personality.  My cover for DEADLY DECOR--June 2014, the second book in the Caprice De Luca home-stager mystery series says it all.

It's like a treasure map that will tell you important details about Caprice and the book.  The colors are so 60's, Caprice's favorite decade.  In her 50's Pennsylvania Cape Cod house, you'll find retro appliances in her kitchen, colorful turquoise, yellow and lime green mugs and a purple can opener.  If you look closely, you'll see a symbolic can of green paint--a painter she contracts with is murdered.  Most of all you'll see the coker spaniels that play a large part in this book.  Her cat Sophia--named after her Nana's favorite actress, Sophia Loren--sits atop the refrigerator, watching over all.

This cover reveals Caprice's personality, her vocation for caring for stray animals and her desire to surround herself and her clients with a mood that suits their own lifestyle.

Oh, and did I mention this series includes recipes?  Caprice comes from a large Italian family and likes to cook. Her sister Nikki is a caterer who helps with Caprice's unique and extravagant open houses.  Her Nana and Mom are down-home cooks.

You can read an excerpt from DEADLY DECOR on my mystery website. Karen's Mystery Website Stay tuned for more blogs about decorating, cooking, dogs and cats and everything that makes this series unique.

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website
Karen's Facebook Author Page

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Karen Rose Smith's #Interview with #Audiobook #Narrator, Jeff Bower

Before I introduce Jeff Bower to you, I just want to say how much I enjoyed the process of working with him.  When I listen to narrator samples before I ask for an audition, I'm interested in a tone of voice that fits the story.  As I was deciding whether I wanted to audition male or female narrators for WISH ON THE MOON--Finding Mr. Right Series, I read the book again, intent on point of view.  I realized this book started in my hero's point of view and was very much his story.  The first time I heard Jeff's sample--it was NOT romance--I knew he had the right voice for the book.  Not only the right voice, but as an actor/narrator, he could perform the book.  That meant readers would be able to distinguish each character.

Jeff's professional approach to narrating--the telling of the story as well as the technical end--made this process easy.  This is one of my longer novels, so I listened and he edited as we went.  The quality of his audio production is impeccable.

So now let's learn a bit about actor/narrator Jeff Bower.


I grew up in the small city of Auburn, New York and was very active in the theatre community.


I graduated with a BA in Mathematics from Binghamton University and a MFA in acting from Florida Atlantic University.  I have been a professional actor for over ten years, having appeared in more than 40 theatre productions, numerous films and commercials, and Internet sketches.  I've also been lucky enough to have one of my plays published by Samuel French.  But my greatest accomplishment is my loving marriage to my wife, Ivelyn, for ten years this coming May.


I read all the time as a kid.  I went through many flashlight batteries as a kid, reading long after my bedtime.  I was a huge C.S. Lewis and Tolkien fan.  As an adult I have not been as much of a reader.  My wife is a former librarian and I have read many books on her recommendation but rarely choose a book for myself.  Now that I narrate audiobooks, I get to discover new novels and genres.


In college I did a sketch comedy radio show and had a blast.  Since then, I've always wanted to branch out into voice over acting.  After setting up my home studio, I discovered the possibilities and opportunities in narrating audiobooks.  I have been lucky enough to be contracted to perform 10 books in the last 6 months.


The length of the audiobook really determines the amount of time it takes to record and edit it.  It takes me a little longer to finish a book because my cat, Kayser, likes to sneak into my recording studio and meow while I'm recording.


I have a deep, natural speaking voice, so female voices can be very difficult for me.  Instead of raising my pitch, I focus on "lightening" my voice or putting more air around the sound.


This was my first romance novel.  When the opportunity presented itself, I was hesitant, but my wife encouraged me to audition and do the book.  It was a great experience and I look forward to doing more in the future.


I like to choose projects that are exciting and interesting to me.  Also, I am an easy-going, fun-loving, positive individual, and I like to work with like-minded people.  The tone and disposition the authors use in their correspondence with me during the audition process makes a big difference.

I want to say again how much I enjoyed the process of bringing WISH ON THE MOON to life with Jeff.  If you need a narrator, I hope you listen to his sample and choose him for a project.  You can learn more about Jeff and keep up with his career at www.castjeffbower.com

Hear a sample of WISH ON THE MOON or buy at:

WISH ON THE MOON Audiobook on Audible 

WISH ON THE MOON Audiobook on Amazon 

WISH ON THE MOON Audiobook on iTunes

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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The #Cat #Rescue Saga by Deborah Blake, Karen Rose Smith's guest post author.

I often post about our stray and feral cats, as well as the cats we've rescued and brought inside.  Cat lovers and animal lovers seem to gravitate toward each other.  Deborah Blake saw one of my posts and commented on it. I asked her if she'd like to write a guest post for me to share her experiences and she agreed.  This is her Cat Rescue Saga.

From Deborah--
Some time ago, I read Karen's post of the loss of her rescue cat, Lance.  LANCELOT--The Stray Cat Who Adopted Us    It really hit a chord with me, because I have a long history of "accidental" cats.  I left a long message in response, detailing a few of my rescue cat adventures.  Apparently it touched a chord in return since Karen asked me if I could do a guest post about what I like to refer to as "The Furball Gang."  (I have five at the moment--I no longer have to worry about the dust bunnies...because the dust cougars have eaten them.) 
I have always had cats that were either adopted from shelters or scooped up from barns (including two six-month-old "brothers" that were so feral, it was months before we discovered that they were, in fact sisters, as well as one tiny gray kitten that I literally crawled underneath a cow to pick up because he was the only gray one and by golly, I wanted a gray one.)

 "Cats have been with me through some of the darkest days of my life; through illness and loss, loneliness and fear." 

And then, of course, there were the ones that just showed up.  When my stepdaughter was three, someone abandoned two tiny orange kittens across the street from our crappy apartment in a less-than-desirable neighborhood.  My then-husband and I found them on a Friday night and brought htem inside, intending to take them to the shelter in the morning.  We already had two cats, after all, and couldn't afford any more.  Naturally the three year old walked in the door the next day, took one look at them and said MY KITTENS.  And then there were four.  (E.T. got his name because he had extra toes.  His brother Plush got his name because Jenn was three and we let her pick it out.  Sorry, Plush.)  As is the way of such things, they turned out to be two of the best cats we ever had.

The five I have now are all former shelter cats.  Minerva and her son Mystic and daughter Magic (aka Magic the Cat, Queen of the Universe, who co-authored a few of my books for Llewellyn) all came from one local shelter, where I went in looing for one kitten and came out with two and their under-aged, sick, terrified (and probably abused) mother.  It took two years to get her to trust me enough to sit on my lap.  Now she won't get off!  The shelter folks, when they were trying to convince me to take her, offered to throw her in for no charge as a "bonus." (They knew she was pretty much unadoptable because she was so scared and sickly.)  So I call her my bonus kitty.  I'm pretty sure they saw the neon "sucker" sign on my forehead when I walked in...

One of the others is a boy named Angus, who looks a lot like Karen's cat Lance.  I suppose that's what prompted me to comment in the first place--how much they looked alike.  I adopted him at the same time as I brought home Samhain, a girl cat who was in the same room at the shelter.  She was 4 or 5 probably when I adopted them (a stray, so they didn't know for sure), and developed chronic renal failure a couple years after I brought her home.  Five and a half years in, I'm still giving her subQ fluids every day and we're fighting the good fight.
Mystic and Minerva

Ironically, I adopted those two in the name of a stray who showed up in my driveway one cold upstate NY February night.  That cat, who I eventually named Melisande, was skittish, but had clearly once had been close to people.  I caught her in a trap so I could have her spayed and then adopted.  As I sat with her int he mudroom, waiting for my friend to pick her up, she started to purr.  Needless to say, she never went anywhere.  Six months later, she suddenly got very sick and the vet said she was in renal failure--had probably been dying the entire time she'd been with me.  My vet as much as said that she thought the cat had been sent to me so she would have love and a safe place to spend her last days.  Lance, Karen's rescue, was lucky enough to find the same thing.

"People think that I have rescued all the cats who have shared my life.  But it might be more accurate to say that they have rescued me."

When I went to get Angus from a different local shelter (having found him on the Petfinder website), I was torn between him and tiny 7 lb. calico Samhain (so called because that is the Celtic holiday they got Halloween from and she is black and orange.)  I was so determined to only get ONE more cat, I went back 3 times, trying to decide between them.  Finally I said "Whichever cat sits on my lap is the one that goes home with me."  I went into the room they lived in--which probably had a least 20 cats loose in it--and sat on the floor.  Buff-colored shy Angus immediately came and sat on my lap and purred like a maniac.  "Well, there you go," I said.  "He's the one I came for in the first place."  Then he got up and Samhain came over and sat down on me, and also purred like a maniac.  None of the other cats even gave me a second look.  I rolled my eyes in the general direction of the gods and gave up.  So now I have five cats.  And don't go anywhere near shelters.

Still, the one thing that has been true of me and cats all my life is that for the most part, I didn't pick them, they picked me.  Cats have been with me through some of the darkest days of my life; through illness and loss, loneliness and fear.  People think that I have rescued all the cats who have shared my life.  But it might be more accurate to say that they have rescued me.  I hope they continue to do so.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go feed my Feline Overlords, and I believe there is a catnip mouse that someone need to retrieve from under the sofa.

Angus and Samhain

Deborah's latest releases:
Wickedly Dangerous (Berkley Sept ‘14) and Wickedly Wonderful (Berkley Dec ‘14)
The Witch’s Broom (Llewellyn, April ‘14)

Karen's sleuth, Caprice De Luca--in her endeavor to solve murders--takes in strays, too!
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