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


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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

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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.

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©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

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

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©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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Decisions To Make When Developing An #Audiobook by Karen Rose Smith

Decisions to make when developing an audiobook

1.  Does the age of the narrator make a difference?  Can a forty-year-old narrate a thirty-year-old main character?  Can a thirty-year old narrate a forty-year-old character?

Listen for nuances of voice that can signal older or younger, then decide if the voice can be maintained throughout the book.  I like to somewhat match the age of my main character.

2.  Would you enjoy listening to this voice for 4 to 12 hours?

My books run between 4 and 8 hours.  I know when I look forward to hearing the next recorded chapter that I've chosen the right narrator.

3.  Can the narrator upload one chapter at a time either into an app like Dropbox or onto ACX?

This method is less tedious for both the narrator and the author.  I've experienced handling one chapter at a time, a batch of chapters at a time or the whole book.  The problem with handling the entire book is this.  If you find a problem in an early chapter--for instance length of pauses at scene breaks--it's much easier for the narrator to adjust it in the next chapters.  If, for example, you like the audition and the first fifteen minutes but then the narrator speeds up for the rest of the book, he or she can't edit that.

4.  Do you want a performance or a narration?

With a performance, you will hear a distinct change in voice for each character.  My narrators Johnny Peppers (Toys And Baby Wishes) and Jeff Bower (Wish On The Moon) do this beautifully.  With a narration, the reader reads the book, maybe with light inflection changes.  My narrator Leslie Ellis (Always Devoted) is expert at this.

5.  Do you care about deadlines?

If the book has a stipend, the project must be completed in 60 days.  Otherwise, you can set your dates for the fifteen minutes and then the completed date.  All of the narrators I've worked with have been professional about meeting their deadlines.  Just remember you need time to listen and give feedback before final approval. If a stipend is not involved, it doesn't matter. You and the narrator can push the final approval to a later date.

6.  Do you want the same cover on your audiobook as your ebook? 

Even if you do, it will have to be re-sized into a square (2400 x 2400 pixels)

7. Do you want to share royalties 50-50 or pay a narrator for production hours outright?

I've done both.  When I couldn't find a voice I liked to do the 50-50 share, I went to pay per production hour narrators.  I paid from between $100 to $225 a finished hour.  But a higher fee doesn't always mean better quality.  Be sure about the voice and quality of his or her technical skills before beginning.

All of these decisions are part of audiobook development.  It helps the process if you're prepared for the decisions you have to make.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Do You Have a #Bliss #List? by Karen Rose Smith

Did you ever make a list of your bliss--those things that you know make you at peace, happy and fulfilled?  Sometimes I forget that I play a part in finding my own happiness.  Yes, it's like a butterfly flitting here and there, but sometimes I can help it land.  My bliss involves work and play.  Maybe my list will inspire yours.

A day writing with characters I love, a plot that's compelling and no phone calls, emails, blogs or electronic devices beeping at me.

Watching hummingbirds play and eat in the hummingbird garden I grew for them.

Playing "catch a shoelace" with our three cats, one at a time or all together.

Hanging sun catchers at the windows so I have rainbows dancing on the walls all year long.

Sitting at a picnic table with friends and catching up on each other's lives.

Listening to my son's voice and remembering him as a child, as well as appreciating him as an adult.

Visiting a place of power like the red rocks of Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the Big Horn Mountains where the wild mustangs still roam.

Spending time at a nearby wolf sanctuary and appreciating their beauty and the dedication of the volunteers who care for them.

Watching a favorite TV show with my husband and shutting out the rest of the world.  a favorite TV show with my husband and shutting out the rest f the world.
Becoming lost in a new book I can't put down.

Listening to music that opens my emotions and fills my soul.

Rising before sunrise to watch a day break wide open in golden beauty.

If you'd like, feel free to share your blissful moments in the comments.  Maybe yours will inspire more of mine.  To much bliss in all of our lives!

©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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