How I Write A Harlequin Special Edition--#Family Themes by Karen Rose Smith





We all come from families who impact who we are, how we think, how we grew, played and learned.
I was an only child but descended from large Italian families. My dad had nine brothers and sisters and my mom had six. Weekends were filled with time with uncles, aunts and cousins. Relationships always fascinated me so I watched the interactions between and among relatives with interest. When I met my husband, I realized our marriage would never just be about him and me. It would be about how the two of us as a couple and later with our son as our own family unit fit together with both sets of our parents.

When I began writing, I had this rich, relationship background to draw on. Not so much specific situations, but the overall feel of how a hero and heroine fit in with their community and the people around them. Love doesn't happen in a vacuum. We bring our past and our present to the one we love. Somehow after the blush of first love, a couple must figure out how their lives and the friends and family in them mesh together. That's important in raising children. 

In writing a Special Edition, I give my hero and heroine center stage. But friends and family provide conflict, character revelation, reasons for opening up about the past, as well as humor. The hero and heroine are the center of the wheel and the focus for each scene. The cast surrounding the wheel provide support, sounding boards and opportunities for secrets to be revealed. Balancing the cast is easy. The book is always about the hero and heroine's thoughts, feelings and journey to loving each other. The other players form the scenery along the way. 

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USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 


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#Feline #Sunbathing in Winter--#Cats This Week by Karen Rose Smith



Humans search for sources of additional "light" during these winter months--sunlamps, happy lamps, or perhaps just window shades that will open wide to allow as much light as possible to shine into a room. Webster refers to sunshine as "something that radiates warmth, cheer or happiness." Our furry friends seem to have the same need as humans for the sun's rays. Even in the dead of winter they search out sunny spots in the house to soak in a sunbeams. This week I caught our cats enjoying the warmth of the sun at various place throughout the house--some expected, others a surprise. 

One morning Halo found the sun splashing across the bed and she immediately settled in its warmth and basked in its glow. 
Paddy, on the other hand, was spied under the kitty steps where she had settled for a nap, only to wake to the afternoon sun shining between two steps. 
At some time during the day, each of our felines spends time on our cat condos. We have them positioned at the windows in several rooms, so they can rotate their roosting spots to follow the movement of the sun throughout the day. 


Zoie's favorite spot to enjoy the sun's rays is the kitchen table. Since it is painted a sunny yellow color, it gives the impression of brightness and warmth even on cloudy days. And on sunny afternoons...well, let's just say that we have our lunch at the kitchen counter because Zoie is not about to relinquish her midday sunbathing spot.  

Even the stray cats who frequent our yard take time each day to find a sunny spot to rest and preen themselves, all the while enjoying the warmth of the winter sun.
Our furry felines may not be able to read the dictionary, but they know the special attributes of the sun that bring them warmth and happiness. So "read" and maybe even follow your cat to soak in the sun's warmth. Perhaps you too will find some cheer and happiness this week! 

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Halo soaks in some sunshine as she gets
ready to settle down with a really good book!






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USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 


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Meet Natalie J. Damschroder--Author of Aftershocks, Romantic Adventure via Karen Rose Smith





From Natalie J. Damschroder--

Thanks so much for allowing me to visit your blog today, Karen!

To me, Aftershocks is a romance. But then, I have a pretty broad definition of the genre. Do two people fall in love and wind up together at the end? Romance. A lot of people don't share my perspective, but there's a section of readers who do like a little bit of uncertainty added to the basic tropes of the genre. Now, I promise, NO ONE DIES. That's a hard and fast rule. I refuse to read books or go to movies where one of the two main characters dies. (I'm looking at YOU, City of Angels!) But I think it's fun to read or write a book where the heroine doesn't know who she's going to wind up with. Where I, the author, didn't even know until the end! So that's at the core of this book. Zoe's dilemma—does she belong more with the rough-and-tough guy from her past, or the more polished guy from her present?

Because I also like high stakes and lots of adrenaline, this book also has the following things: treasure, trains, bad guys, crazy bad guys, sweet little sisters that need protecting, and a big battle scene. It also has the beach, Boston, and road-tripping, which somehow seem to find their way into a lot of my books! LOL 

So, I'd love to hear from Karen's readers...do you like or loathe a love triangle? I'll see you in the comments!



AFTERSHOCKS by Natalie J. Damschroder



Her past and her present collide with earthshaking results. Who will be her future…assuming she has one?

Sixteen years ago, Zoe Ardmore was abducted and held for a year before she escaped. After struggling to overcome the damage done by that year, she has put it behind her—completely. Her fiancĂ©, Kellen Stone, doesn’t even know it happened. She has a successful career and social life untainted by the past.

Now her abductors have been released from prison, jeopardizing every part of that new life. She took something from them, a treasure they’ll never stop seeking, and they’ve threatened her new family if she doesn’t return that treasure. The problem is that she has no idea where it is. The solution? Grant Neely, the one person who knows everything about that dark time. He’s now a mercenary with the connections and skills to help her resolve this mess. He’s also the man whose proposal she refused ten years ago.

Zoe breaks her engagement and sells her company in an effort to remove the threat hanging over the people she cares about. But the only permanent solution is to find the treasure and destroy it so her enemies have no reason to come after her or anyone else. Grant’s the one man who can help her, even if it means dredging up old feelings. But then Kell shows up, refusing to be sidelined and showing Zoe that none of them are who they seem to be. At the end of her quest will be the hardest decision she’s ever had to make—if she’s around to make it. 


My PhotoAUTHOR'S NOTE: This book defies conventional romance tropes in that it contains a love triangle. Some readers don't like this because of the possibility that the heroine will choose the "wrong" guy. Some love the added excitement of uncertainty. I want every reader to have a great experience when they read my books, so please keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to buy this book. Thank you!






NATALIE'S SOCIAL LINKS:



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Coming in May from Karen Rose Smith...









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USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 


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#Feline #Relaxation, A Lesson For Humans--#Cats This Week by Karen Rose Smith




Learning to relax is a gift.  Maybe a gift we can learn from our cats.

Stress, which is naturally part of our everyday lives, can hamper our ability to enjoy whatever is on our list for the day. We become so absorbed in work, in schedules, in daily frustrations, that we don't take time to "smell the roses" and enjoy the beauty of the little things that surround us.  This week because the cats were fascinated with our bird feeder on our deck, I noticed the beauty of the chirping birds at the bird feeder. I forgot about the clean-up necessary come spring. Because of the cats chasing rainbows from the suncatchers, I noticed how bright the sun was shining for a change.  Because of Zoie Joy meowing at me on the kitchen table late at night when I decided I needed a cup of tea before bed, I saw the gorgeous silver moonlight glowing over the backyard. She's noticed it before me and was looking out the window.



After I glanced over the photos that I snapped of our cats this week, it dawned on me that perhaps I need to take a lesson from them. Halo, Paddington, London and Zoie were all caught in totally relaxing poses and, observing them, I realized that I too I need to take a few deep breaths and relax when everyday stresses seem to overwhelm me. I need to abandon the stresses of the moment and zone out and allow my body to renew its balance before I move on. I need to open my body and mind to absorb the positive vibes around me. I need to find peace at least once a day. What a beautiful feline lesson. My furry crew are my joy, my companions and yes, my teachers. Now I just need to do my homework...and relax. 

Paddy at her most relaxed!

Zoie retreats from her usual curled sleeping position
to a more relaxed pose that invites a tummy rub.
 

Halo and Zoie are still developing their
relationship but their relaxed body language
signals that they are more trusting of each other.

London's position with her legs intertwined shows how relaxed
she is knowing that she is safe on her window shelf.
 
Halo rests comfortably on the top shelf of the floor-to-ceiling
condo while she surveys the feline and human activities below
her. She is truly appreciative of the peace she has found in her
furever home.

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USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 


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Grandma's #Pancake #Recipe by Karen Rose Smith




To say my family was traditional is so true! My mother's family was especially "old country." My grandparents came from Italy when they were in their teens. My grandmother married my grandfather when she was only sixteen! I have their wedding photo hanging on my wall and it takes me back to another time and place.


My grandmother had seven children and my mom was the oldest. When I would visit my maternal grandparents and stay overnight, they often spoke in Italian. I might have felt left out, but I didn't. Italian created a bond between them that was as obvious as their roles. A barber, my grandfather had a shop on the first floor of their two-story row house. His job was to provide for his family and he did. My grandmother's role was to take care of everyone.

So what does this have to do with grandma's pancakes? Once in a while when we routinely went to their house for Sunday supper, my grandmother would forsake tradition! Instead of the usual multi-course meal, she would serve her home-made pancakes and eggs—any way you'd like them. I would help her mix the pancakes in a huge measuring cup with a hand beater afixed to the top. I'll never forget the aroma of those pancakes cooking in her cast iron skillet or their sweet, cake-like, melt-in-your- mouth flavor.

Often on a weekend or on a night we haven't thawed anything for dinner, my husband and I make my grandmother's recipe for pancakes accompanied by scrambled eggs. The meal brings back many memories and feelings from childhood. I have more than one copy of the recipe so I don't lose it. I always want to remember the sense of heritage and family I feel when I enjoy those pancakes. I thought I'd share that recipe here with you.


Grandma's Home-made Pancakes

Beat 4 eggs well by hand (very important)

Add—
2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon baking powder.

Mix until the consistency of cake batter. Drop with ladle onto a medium hot griddle or skillet. (Wait until bubbles form on top surface before flipping.)You can also add cinnamon and serve with apple butter, butter and syrup.

Enjoy!

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Caprice De Luca, the sleuth in my Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery Series is from a large Italian family. Based on my own Italian heritage, the De Luca family has been a joy to write about.  I hope you enjoy SILENCE OF THE LAMPS, book 5, coming in May 2016.








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USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 


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Our #Feline #Sweethearts--#Cats This Week by Karen Rose Smith





Valentine's Day is for sweethearts. But just what is a sweetheart? Someone you enjoy being with...someone you love to snuggle with...someone you trust and who trusts you...someone who touches your heart in a way no one else can?

Paddy decorates her scratching
house for Valentine's Day.
Humans can be all these things to each other and it is a truly special bond that should be celebrated all year...not just on one appointed day. Our furry friends also fit the definition of "sweetheart" and we should also appreciate our special bonds with them everyday. 

Zoie, Halo, Paddy and London are our constant house buddies.  Nothing makes them happier than being with us...whether we are cooking in the kitchen, working in my office, or settled for an evening of TV.  They love to snuggle against us and relish the petting and stroking while they nap. They show their appreciation for the closeness by reaching out a paw to touch us or using our leg for a pillow.

Zoie and Paddy work together
to decorate the scratching house.
Trust is difficult to foster among humans and just as precarious to foster among our pets. Weeks, months and sometimes even years are needed to develop a trusting relationship. Setbacks along the way (like a visit to the vet, or an accidental trip when walking through the house) often take us back a few steps and we have to re-establish our trust. But in the process we are building a loving bond that is as strong as any human bond.  
Paddy poses for her Valentine's photo.

Regardless of their unique personalities, each one of our felines has etched an indelible mark in our hearts. It is the stuff that memories are made of...the little things that make us laugh...the unassuming things like a peaceful napping pose that bring a tear to our eye.  
Halo's Valentine's photo session. 

So this Valentine's Day, as you reach out in your own special way to tell your human sweethearts how special they are to you, take a moment to appreciate the love you and your pets share because their sweet hearts beat just for you! 



Even London, who can sometimes be our
"grumpy cat" has her sweet moments and
loves to cuddle for an afternoon nap.

Halo and all the Smith felines with you a
Happy Valentine's Day filled with warm cuddly
moments and sweet dreams.


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USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 


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