Monday, March 25, 2013

Rescuing a Kitten -- Leaving Zoie, Ebbie and London For A Trip

Zoie, Ebbie and London spend some time on their own!

With three cats who we treat like kids, when we go away, we need a pet sitter.  We visited our son who lives three quarters away across the country.  I really wanted to go, but I also didn't want to leave Zoie.  She's become a sweet, social kitty who likes to be with us through the whole day.  We still feed her more often than Ebbie and London and will continue to do so until she's a year old.  One aspect of her personality will probably never change--she startles easily.  This is probably because of her first weeks in the wild.  At heart, she's still a hunter who was left on her own when she was too little to fend for herself.  When my husband sneezes, she runs for cover!

Like a mom leaving her kids, I worried.  Ebbie and London know the routine when they see me separating clothes in the closet, setting do-not-forget items on the dining room table the week before we leave.  When the suitcase appears, London likes to sleep on it or in it.  Ebbie just gives me those looks that tell me she doesn't want her routine disrupted, that she doesn't want to miss her snuggling time with me after Zoie goes to bed in my office.

Bless my pet sitter.  I left her 7 pages of printed instructions.  Now that's not really as bad as it sounds.  But I number have-to's for each visit and she checks them off.  She's been watching over our animals for more than a dozen years.  She also keeps her own check-off sheets and leaves them for me with handwritten notes so we know exactly what happened when we were gone--from London's hairballs, to Zoie's Zumba in the litter box, to Ebbie finishing her tablespoon of cream.  I knew that Zoie let my pet sitter hold her on her shoulder, that Ebbie played with feather toys, that London rolled in the catnip.  The wonderful quality about our pet sitter is that she loves my girls, too.  She not only feeds them but plays with them and actually knows them.

Not only did Ebbie, London and Zoie survive our separation, but they thrived.  When we returned home, they seemed content with each other...and with us.  But they were glad to have us back.  I could tell by the way Ebbie cuddled close, by Zoie rubbing her head against mine, by London seeking us out more than usual.


Zoie, Ebbie and London are happy that we are home again!

We're back to normal now...and waiting for real spring weather when we can open windows to better hear birds sing and watch hummingbirds flitter at feeders.  No more trips planned for a while.  But thank goodness when we do decide to be away from home, we don't have to worry about our furry companions...because they are well taken care of. 

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

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

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sneak Peek, HER SISTER, How book 7 opens

HER SISTER, book 7 in my Search For Love series, is contemporary women's fiction, part romance, part mystery.  For this sneak peek I've given you the opening of the prologue which happened 27 years before the present day storyline. I hope it draws you in!


Where is Lynnie? Where did she go?

In her mind, five-year-old Clare Thaddeus called to her little sister—Come back, Lynnie. Please come back.

The huge policeman crouched down in front of Clare's mother at the sofa and said in a deep, slow voice, "Mrs. Thaddeus, I know you're terribly upset. But I need details. We've got an hour before daylight. If your daughter wandered outside—"

Clare's father, who'd been talking to another man in blue, glanced at her, and Clare huddled down deeper into the big green armchair. Her dad didn't come to her but rather went to her mom, sank down beside her and wrapped his arm around her. Then he spoke to the officer. "Our daughter, Lynnie, is three. She would never go outside into the dark on her own."

"Tell us again where you were last night," the policeman demanded in a not-so-nice voice.

"I worked late, preparing a brief."

Excerpt from HER SISTER by Karen Rose Smith, Copyright 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


In developing your audiobooks, should you agree to royalty share or pay for production?

I went into the venture of audiobooks thinking that making the decision about royalties or paying for production was a no-brainer.  Why would I want to put out money when I don't have to?

However, let's look at my goal.  I had fifteen books I wanted to develop into audiobooks.  Seven of them were part of a continuing series.  The main characters were different in each book.  So it didn't seem a viable option for me to have the same narrator do all seven.  I wanted to get the books up quickly, yet using an effective voice for each.  I also realized that the "perfect" voice is different for each and every listener.  I've avidly listened to audiobooks over the past fifteen years because of eye problems.  I know the voices I enjoy and those I don't.  I also realized that the audiobook market will get glutted just as the ebook market has, so I wanted to be efficient and timely in getting the books ready for retail.

About that "perfect" voice...

I knew whatever narrator I chose, I would have to live with him or her for seven years, the life of my distribution agreement with ACX.  And even if the voice is "perfect", presentation is rated on Audible along with the story, so the narrator will be receiving reviews, too. The rating is averaged.

Let's look at both royalty share where payment is split between ACX, the narrator/producer and the rights holder.  The narrator is usually the producer.  In some cases, the narrator uses an outside producer to clean up the recording for sale (extraneous sounds, mouth sounds, editing discrepancies).  But in that case, the narrator pays the producer.  This can be the arrangement in both royalty share as well as pay for production.

On my first audiobook, TOYS AND BABY WISHES, a narrator who was looking for royalty share agreements came to me.  However,  I had romances to develop into audiobooks and I wasn't sure I wanted a male narrator.  After all, weren't most romances read by women?  Yet when I listened to his audition, I loved Johnny's voice and his performance of my characters.  His narrating, as well as his technical skills, were excellent and I had no doubt I wanted him to produce my book.  We worked well together and the process was easy.  He uploaded chapters, I listened and gave him editing changes.  He edited and I listened to those changes.  At the end, I listened to the book again.  This process took about six weeks.  He was taking a chance on me as well as I was taking a chance on him.  What if the book didn't sell?  When that first book went live, I wanted it to do well for him as well as for me.

My second narrator came to me, too.  However, there was a difference.   This book had a stipend.  (ACX puts stipends per production hour on some books.  I'm not sure how they choose.)  Because the narrator would receive the stipend in addition to the royalty share, I received several unsoliticed auditions.  I listened to the first voice who was again male.  Not only male, but Australian male.  He absolutely nailed my hero in his audition.  It had just the right tone and the right emotion.  And I liked the way he made his voice "lighter" for my heroine.  But he was Australian.  How would listeners take to the light accent?  I asked Ben to do a second audition with different characters.  I also listened to more men and women audition.  Every time I heard Ben's voice, I fell into it.  I liked the sound of it.  I had my BFF listen to the audition and she said any woman would want to listen to his voice!  He was good.  She just confirmed what I'd realized from the first time I heard him.  He was my hero and that's what mattered.

My third project to be developed was also royalty share.  This was my first female narrator. She uploaded the chapters when she was finished and I listened to the whole book at once for editing.

I kept listening to other female narrators and not connecting with them.  Taking a look at the next book I wanted to upload to ACX, I auditioned male narrators when I found the book was very much the hero's story.  This book was also royalty share.

For the next few books I knew I needed female narrators.  One, which was a new release, would need a more mature woman's voice different from my younger heroines.  I believe at this time more authors were finding ACX.  I went through hundreds of audition samples on the site by narrators who were accepting royalty share terms, unable to match voices to books.  Or if I did find someone, I would message them.  Many were busy.  Two told me they would only look at royalty share projects with stipends.  So I decided to explore samples from pay-for-production narrators.  I ended up with four at various fees--$100, $125, $140 and $225 per production hour.  You'd think with paid production there would be no technical problems.  That wasn't true.  After we started the project in two cases, hearing the recording machine go on and off and echoing sounds was something I had to note.  These were eventually corrected thanks to the professionalism of the narrators.

I want anyone deciding to develop audiobooks to understand excellent narrators with excellent technical skills can be found in both royalty share as well as paid production.  And vice versa.

Shared royalties drew my attention first because my investment in the projects was time rather than money.  But then I rather liked the idea on the pay-for-production projects that I wouldn't have to share royalties with my narrator, just ACX.  I look at this whole audio adventure as an investment in my future earnings.  And, as with any investment, I believe diversification is the way to go.  I've diversified with my narrators.  If a listener doesn't like one, hopefully they'll be drawn to another.  I've diversified utilizing both payment options because seven years is a long time.

I still have books which need narrators.  But now I'm easier with the whole process.  Five are live and six are developing in stages.  I do need time to write for other deadlines!  So I'm biding my time for the next books to be put into audio.  I'm waiting for two narrators who were booked when I wanted to collaborate with them.  One is male and is a pay-for-production rate, the other is female and will participate in royalty share.  They both will be worth the wait.

So...  After reading everything on the website, after deciding whether or not you have time to give to this venture--listening to sample of auditions, uploading books with a marketing plan, listening to the finished product in stages--should you enter into a royalty share plan or a pay for production agreement?  Analyze your goals, your finances, the voices you hear on samples, then jump into the audio waters with whatever you're more comfortable with and can afford.  Then sit back and wait for your book to really come alive.  

 Hear a sample of ALWAYS DEVOTED or buy at:

ALWAYS DEVOTED Audiobook on Amazon

ALWAYS DEVOTED Audiobook on Audible

 Hear a sample of ALWAYS HER COWBOY or buy at:

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

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

Saturday, March 9, 2013


My sneak peek this week is my contemporary romance WISH ON THE MOON which has just been produced in an audiobook!  This was my first Special Edition but I've updated and revised it for ebook form now.  It's part of my FINDING MR. RIGHT series.  In it a prodigal daughter is reunited with her dad at her childhood home.  But Mitch Riley has entered the picture now.  Not only did he fetch her from a different life, but he might have even taken her place in her father's affections.  They clash from their first meeting until Mitch realizes there are two sides to every story.  This mother with a young daughter isn't the wild child his mentor described and...his heart is at risk. 

I hope you enjoy it.  See book trailer below for a preview.

Laura stepped away from Mitch, away from the shadows of a tall maple, into the moon's full light.  "Do you ever wish on the moon?"

Her profile was perfect.  It tugged at him as much as the fancy of her question.  "I thought people wished on stars."

"The moon's bigger, closer, more touchable."

"That's not very scientific."

"Neither is wishing.  But it works."  She glanced at him, her smile small and mysterious.  "Wishes are like pictures you draw in your mind.  They're always there whether you know it or not, just waiting to come to life.  When you picture something, you can make it happen."

Book Trailer WISH ON THE MOON 

AUDIOBOOK Wish On The Moon  Sample audiobook here.

Buy on Amazon WISH ON THE MOON

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

Check out more Sneak Peeks from these authors: Sneak Peek Sunday excerpts

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Quieting Down To Write

                                                   Wishful thinking in the midst of winter
Promotion is absolutely necessary for writers.  But just how much of your day should you give to it?  Just how much of your energy do you lose by concentrating on it?

I've had a few days that I couldn't focus on the pure writing...the getting lost in the story...the work that should be driving everything else.  I had audio auditions coming in, a book to reload onto Amazon, a new banner to develop for Facebook, a book trailer to approve.  If I start the day with promotion, it can go on and on like an engine that just won't quit--tweeting, Facebooking, setting up ads, listing on free-book sites, contacting reviewers.

So either I write first, or I learn how to quiet down.  First of all, that might mean setting a timer for all the busywork that built up on my to-do list overnight.  If it doesn't all get done--  Well, it just doesn't.  Because my raw writing is the reason I do promotion in the first place.

After that timer buzzes, it's not easy to switch gears.  If I can, I go for a walk.  Today, though the temperature was a tad below freezing, the sun was winter bright.  (We're supposed to have a snowstorm tomorrow.) So...I sat on the patio, soaking in the sun, listening to the birds, feeling the breeze, inhaling winter scents that I hope will soon turn to spring ones. (Hence the picture I opened with.)  Quieting down takes about twenty minutes.  If I can't sit in the sun, I play with our kitten Zoie Joy, listen to music, tend to seeds I've started for summer planting or just breathe until I'm no longer buzzing with busywork but turning my head toward plot and my characters and what they're going to do in the next scene.

Do you have to quiet down to write?  If so, how do you do it?

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Hear a sample of ALWAYS HER COWBOY or buy at:




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

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sneak Peak Sunday, NATHAN'S VOW

This week I'm giving you a glimpse into my contemporary paranormal ebook, NATHAN'S VOW, book 1 in my Search For Love series. This was one of those books that wrote like a dream.  I have to admit I believe in things I can't always see.  My heroine has a "gift" for finding missing persons. But that gift has led to heartache in the past and she left her hometown in the midwest  for Los Angeles to escape it and just to try to be "normal." But now Nathan Bradley has found her and he needs her help. From the moment she saw the picture he carried in his wallet of his two little girls that have disappeared with his ex-wife, she couldn't stay removed.  She has gone to his house with him to see what she might be able to sense or feel.

Taking the photograph from his hand, she sank down onto the sofa and studied it.  He paced to the windows, loked out, then turned around.  She could feel his gaze on her.  With her eyes closed, she held on to the picture and tried to let the energy flow freely.  But after a few moments, she knew it wasn't flowing.  She didn't feel anything...except Nathan's desperation as he waited for a response from her.

She stood and approached him, not knowing why she needed to be close instead of across the room.  "Nathan, what do you expect from me?"

"To tell me where my daughters are."

"You expect a city, a country, an address?"

He threw his hands in the air.  "I don't know what the hell to expect.  I don't know how you do what you do."

She had the strongest urge to reach out and soothe his troubled brow.  Fighting the sensation, telling herself she would not get personally involved, she stepped back.  "This could take time."

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

NATHAN'S VOW on Amazon

NATHAN'S VOW will soon be available as an audiobook.

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

Check out more Sneak Peeks from these authors: Sneak Peek Sunday excerpts