Thursday, October 31, 2013

Single Dad's #Christmas Miracle by Susan Meier, Recommended #Sweet Read

If you're looking for a sweet, emotional romance to read before, during or after Christmas, I recommend SINGLE DAD'S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE by Susan Meier.  I've known Susan for years--I won't say how many--and we have grown up and become veterans together in this topsy-turvy world of publishing. This year her Harlequin Romance THE TYCOON'S SECRET DAUGHTER was a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist. 

Here's a preview:

Having recently lost his wife, Clark Beaumont is trying to make it through the holidays for the sake of his kids.  But with his son failing at school and his little girl talking only in whispers, he needs nothing short of a miracle...
...when one arrives on his doorstep!

Althea Johnson is only meant to tutor Clark's son.  But with her help the Beaumont family begins to come alive again and against the odds Althea hopes that when Christmas morning arrives there will be four stockings hanging over the fireplace.

Susan's book encapsulates everything a sweet holiday romance should be.  I hope you add it to your TBR pile and give her novels a try.


Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creamsicle #Cake #Recipe, Yummm!

Here is a recipe I like to make this time of year because it's ORANGE and DELICIOUS! It's great for dinner with friends or a pot luck. I hope you enjoy it.


1 (16.5 oz.) package orange cake mix
2 (3 oz.) packages of orange gelatin, divided
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cold water
1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup milk (I use whole milk so it holds its body longer)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip

Prepare and bake cake mix according to package directions, using a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Cool.  Poke holes all over cake.  (I use the handle of a wooden spoon.)

In a small bowl dissolve 1 pack of the gelatin in boiling water.  Stir until completely dissolved.  Add cold water.  (Very cold water works best.)  Then pour evenly over cake, filling all the holes.  Chill in refrigerator for one hour.

Combine second pack of gelatin, pudding mix, milk and vanilla in mixing bowl.  Beat well until thickened slightly.  (I mix on high.) It won't thicken as much as pudding.  Fold in whipped topping.  I like orange swirls so I don't fold completely even.  Spread the mixture over the cake.  Chill for several hours before serving.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

All-hallow-even and a #Lenox Cat #Giveaway

Energy surrounds us all the time.  But around Halloween, we're even more aware of it.  Who hasn't heard something go bump in the night when there is no logical explanation for the noise?  After a loved one passes, have you ever felt their presence?  On an important occasion or maybe a holiday?  Love is energy that never leaves us and I think we go on feeling it throughout our lives.  I have an antique chest that belonged to my mom.  Evey time I pass it, I remember my childhood and the house where I grew up.  Every once in a while, it seems to give off a scent that can take me back there in my mind...and in my heart.  When it does, it seems to be at those times when I need the touch of my mom's hand on my shoulder the most.

I think energy, a sixth sense and intuition are all closely related.  That's why it was easy for me to create a heroine who can find missing persons through their bonds with their loved ones.  In NATHAN'S VOW, Nathan asks Gillian to assist him in finding his ex-wife and daughters.  Although Gillian was recommended to him because of her success rate, he is skeptical at first.  But he learns she indeed has a gift.  He also learns that love is the greatest gift of all.

Halloween stirs up the pot of ideas beyond our usual realm.  Maybe that's why some of the images surrounding it are so macabre.  But "Halloween" means "all-hallow-even."  Maybe it's simply a night to celebrate everything we don't understand and everything we wish we did!

Lenox Cat Giveaway

As a memento of this All-hallow-even, I'm giving away a Lenox black cat that's 3 1/2 inches high.  All you have to do to get a chance at the giveaway is to leave a comment with your e-mail address on this blog, even if it's simply, "I like black cats."  I'll be accepting comments until midnight October 31 EST.  U.S. and Canadian entries only.  I have two black cats (along with a gray tabby) and they bring me lots of love and good luck.


©2012, edited 2013 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 

Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Four Qualities to Listen for in a #Narrator's Sample of an #Audiobook by Karen Rose Smith

I belong to and I've developed fifteen titles with  The process of choosing a narrator was a well-thought-out one as well as an instinctual one when I heard the right voice.  It was well-thought-out in the fact that audio quality had to be superb--no background noise, no distracting mouth noises, a voice floating in a vacuum making only the words important.  It was instinctual when I could listen to a voice and say, "He is my hero.  She is my heroine."

I have always listened to audiobooks.  I've been impressed by many narrators and put off by others.  I've stopped mid-book because I just couldn't connect with the narrator.  I've been propelled forward into a novel because I couldn't wait to hear the next scene.  In an audiobook, it's all about enjoyment in listening.  Tastes are as varied as the number of listeners.  This is one reason why I used a variety of narrators when I chose them for my books, though I did like two of the male narrators so much that I used them for three books each!

Especially when I'm trying a new author, I listen to the sample first.  Here is what I listen for:

Pacing--Does the narrator's pace work for me?  Some narrators read so fast that I can't absorb the words.  I listen for that because listening should be an easy experience, not a struggle to keep up.

Natural conversation--Can you tell the dialogue from the narration?  Does conversation flow easily as if you were overhearing it at your favorite fast food restaurant?  Can you tell who is speaking?  Is there a change in voice for each character?

Expression--Is emotion coming through the words?  Are the words more than words?  Can you feel the story in your heart as well as hear it in your mind?

Style--Do you want to feel as if you're watching a play?  Or would you rather have a narrator read to you?

The whole experience comes down to getting lost in a story.  If a narrator can take you with him or her into the essence of a book, you will enjoy hours of storytelling and feel as if you've attended a play. 

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Adopt a Wolf? by Karen Rose Smith, Photos at #Wolf #Sanctuary

Why would you ever adopt a wolf?  Friends who really know me wouldn't have to ask.  Readers who have read my feral cat blogs wouldn't have to ask.  The plight of creatures big and small touch my heart.  So when my BFF told me she and her daughter visited a wolf sanctuary and related what they did there, I was intrigued.

Years ago when one of my books was first published, the heroine tells the hero about an adopt-a-wolf program his son might be interested in.  The topic interested me twenty years ago when I wrote RIBBONS AND RAINBOWS and it still does today.  Because the real issue of caring for each other and the creatures we have stewardship over never changes.

So I explored the information about the wolf sanctuary and wanted to visit.  The facility has hours at specific times.  But since walking a distance can be a problem for me, I believed a more casual atmosphere might be better.  My husband and I decided to take the full moon tour, complete with bonfire.  Specific wolf pack areas would be lighted and guides would be stationed with each pack to give information and answer questions.

We knew rain showers were predicted.   But Saturday evening was open so we took the long drive.  We checked in and were given wrist bands.  The bonfire was raging and the wolves were near the fencing, expecting food and maybe extra attention.  They didn't seem to be the least bit disturbed that they had visitors.  Rain soon began to fall.  (I took all my photos in the dark with the rain falling!) But fortunately the wind had stopped and the temperature had remained in the 60's.  What worry was a little rain?  Especially when I wanted to explore something new that concerned the welfare of animals.  I learned that some of the pack areas have shelters, but that the wolves don't use them. (The wolves have an outer protective coat that keeps the rain from seeping down to their skin.)  When the rain became a downpour, folks without umbrellas dispersed and we had a guide to ourselves who was stationed at a gray wolf pack.

For over thirty years this twenty-plus acres of natural woodland has been a refuge for wolves.  Providing food, the proper habitat, as well as veterinary care for over forty wolves is no easy task.  It takes dedication, commitment and volunteers because the sanctuary doesn't accept government or big business assistance.  It maintains itself through tours and donations.  Local restaurants and hunters donate food.

These wolves are often rescued because someone thought they could keep one as a pet.  Wolves are not pets.  States have ordinances about keeping them.  They are beautiful animals who deserve to live where they are free to roam.

You can read so much more about them at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA website. Click here--WOLF SANCTUARY OF PA website

At the website you can learn about each of their wolves as well as donating to help the sanctuary by adopting...and much more.  I hope to return to the sanctuary and learn more about these animals who need a safe home.  There is so much more about these wolves to blog about.

Monday, October 14, 2013

#Christmas Eve #Happily-Ever-After

The holidays are rich with emotion.  What better time period to set a romance?  The important element for me is the time leading up to the holidays.  The rhythm of the relationship changes as it grows and two people fall more deeply in love.   If a significant other spends a holiday with me, he's more apt to find out more about my childhood experiences, desires and dreams.  My past makes me who I am.  That is so true, too, for my characters.  TOYS AND BABY WISHES ends on Christmas Eve.  (JAKE'S BRIDE from my SEARCH FOR LOVE series also ends on Christmas Eve.) There are always pitfalls that lead to the black moment.  Plotting it near Christmas adds a particular oomph to happily-ever-after.  It's a time for magic and miracles and I hope I've captured the spirit of the holiday in both of these books.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  Every year we take a trip to a toy store to buy gifts for the children in our life.  That store has always been a special world.  When our son was small we purchased Star Wars toys and Tonka trucks.  Today we peruse the Barbie Doll shelves along with the craft section.  My hero owns a toy store and my heroine needs fun in her life.  Are they too set in their ways to change?  Or can they fall deep lasting love and compromise?  I hope you'll enjoy their journey that culminates on Christmas Eve.

To celebrate the up-coming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, TOYS AND BABY WISHES is on sale from October 15-19 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble for $.99!  It is also available in Audiobook where readers can listen to Josh and Lexa as they fall in love and make surprising choices for their future.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

View a Book Trailer for TOYS AND BABY WISHES

Hear a sample of TOYS AND BABY WISHES or buy at:

TOYS AND BABY WISHES Audiobook on Audible 

TOYS AND BABY WISHES Audiobook on Amazon

TOYS AND BABY WISHES Audiobook on iTunes


TOYS AND BABY WISHES E-book on Barnes and Noble

 ©2013 Karen Rose Smith

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

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The #Farm #Market: Our Past Or Our Future?

When I was a child (who's counting but over a half century ago), we would take drives on a Sunday afternoon.  One of our favorite stops was a local farm market.  In the summer, we'd buy a basket of peaches, boxes of cherries and plums.  In the fall, we'd pick up a basket of apples, pumpkins and apple cider.  We knew the owners of these stands and how they grew their products.

All these years later, my husband and I still search out farm markets.  We have our favorites when we can't travel to a farmer's market on a particular day.  At these markets I can still buy Stayman apples.  This is the apple my grandmother and mom used to bake pies and other apple desserts.  This variety has a tangy flavor that goes so well with cinnamon.  But it's becoming harder to find.  The photos on my blog today are of Baugher's market in Maryland, one of the few places I can still find Stayman apples.  Apparently these trees need a little more care than newer varieties and when they die, they are not being replaced.  That is such a shame because this variety has such a unique taste.

As you can see from the photos, flowers and pumpkins as well as fruit and vegetables abound here.  These little sweet peppers go so well in soups and stews.  Just the color in a dish in my kitchen makes me smile.  This fall day was beautiful and being able to shop at this market and bringing back memories from long ago was a joy in itself.

We try to make healthy choices for meals.  The idea of genetically engineered produce gives me the heebie-jeebies, just like the book 1984 did when I was in high school.  We have a summer garden that produces heirloom tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and cucumbers.  But sometimes our own garden produce isn't available.  That's when we turn to farm markets.  That's when we ask about pesticides and organic growing methods and learn where our food really originates.

As more people who care what they eat ask questions and grow their own food, I think more cooperative farm markets will emerge.  Sometimes we have to look to the figure out how to find the future.

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Coming soon as an Audio Book

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


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Five Advantages to Becoming an Audible Member

When I learned I could develop my indie-published titles into audiobooks, I jumped on the chance to do it.  I had spent a year revising and updating backlist books that I had the rights to and was now ready for this new leap with ACX, Audible and Amazon's help.  Through ACX, I have developed fifteen books--some old, some new--and with narrators have produced them as audio books to sell on Audible, Amazon and iTunes.  However, long before this year, audio books were a godsend to me.

At age fifty, I found myself with severe cataracts that impaired my vision.  But I was concerned about having them removed because I had another condition that was also affecting my eyes--fibromyalgia.  At that point, I had written and published about thirty books.  I had no intention of stopping writing.  I began to use a tape recorder to write, but I couldn't read more than my own work for editing.  Even through that process, my husband often read me copyedits to save my eyes further strain.  But writers must read to say fresh and current.  They must also be able to do research.  So I began looking around for audio books that could help fill that creative spirit to hear good stories as well as find new avenues of research.    

What I soon found were libraries who couldn't keep up to date with current authors and a market that was so expensive the only time I bought an audiobook by a favorite author was before a trip.  Something had to give.  It did.  The audio book market began changing as it switched from actual physical disks to digital downloads.  It took me a while to sign on, but since I did, I've been nothing but satisfied.

Here are the advantages to using Audible for your book listening enjoyment:

Buy the Kindle version and get the Whispersync narration at a reduced price.  Be able to switch back and forth between them from listening to reading and reading to listening.

With a Kindle Fire HD, you can consider enjoying the experience of immersion reading.  The book is highlighted as the narrator tells the story.  You can listen with your Audible app for iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard.  I use Audible on my iPad, Android phone and Kindle Keyboard!

Becoming a member of Audible can grant you benefits.  Exchange any book you don't like, no questions asked.  If you are a member, every month you receive credits that save you money on audio books.  Save 30% off regular price when you buy books without credits.  You also have access to exclusive sales as well as the gift membership center.

On Audible, there are over 150,000 audiobooks to choose from.  You can try Audible with a free audio book for 30 days.  After that, you will be charged $14.95 a month and you will receive one credit.  You can cancel at any time.  I often listen to more than one audio book a month and I'm picky about what I listen to.  Often Audible will run specials like three credits for $33.95.  So I have extra credits to save up and use.  They also run sales so if I don't want to use my credits, I can just purchase the book outright.

I've found the process easy.  Downloading is simple, too.  Once you buy the book, it's sent to your Audible app library.  You simply refresh your library, then download the book.  You're ready to listen.

Using Audible has brought me hours of reading pleasure I couldn't access another way.  I highly recommend becoming a member of Audible if you are an audio book listener or want to become one.

©2013 Karen Rose Smith 

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

Since I have been writing blogs about choosing a narrator and the audio book development process, Audible reached out to me to ask if I'd be interested in writing a blog about the benefits of using Audible.  I said I would be glad to write the blog and I received two promotional credits. I sell audiobooks through Amazon, Itunes, and Audible.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Winter Is Life-Threatening for #Stray and Feral Cats, #Shelters to build and buy

Winter is life-threatening for stray and feral cats. This is the time of year to think about shelters if you feed stray cats.  Food isn't enough when the wind blows and rain and snow fall.  In Pennsylvania, we're having a particularly warm beginning to October.  But temperatures could dip low at night at any time. It's not only the heat and cold that are dangerous to stray and feral cats, but also winter rain.

We rescued one of our cats, Ebbie, from a snow-covered farm almost thirteen years ago.  She was sick, about ten weeks old and wouldn't have survived.  We adopted her half sister, London, the following spring.  Over a year ago, we rescued our baby Zoie Joy from our backyard.  She was about six weeks old and dehydrated from the over 100 degree temperature.  This summer we cared for a stray who we dubbed Lancelot who had been injured and had FIV.  He passed on recently but he taught us so much about companionship with an outside cat.

Many cat lovers construct their own shelters.  If you're not handy, there are do-it-yourself sites on-line with videos on YouTube.  Just search "Building a feral cat shelter."  This activity would make a great family project.  SAFE HOUSE Animal Rescue League has terrific directions on how to build two different kinds of shelters.  They use Rubbermaid plastic storage bins.  Go here to check out the instructions. Safe House Shelter Instructions

But if you're short on time and can afford to buy one, there are shelters my husband and I would recommend because we have them.

The one we like the best is from The Ark Workshop.  (Click on name for the link.) It's well-constructed of cedar with a shingled roof and a wind guard inside the door.  The opening isn't too big or too small, but just right to keep out the elements.  The shelter comes with or without an escape door with a flap.  You can also purchase these shelters with insulation.

Our igloo shelter we found at PetSmart. (Click on name for link.) Note the extended doorway on this igloo to keep rain from blowing deep inside.  Some "igloos" are not constructed this way, so check descriptions carefully.  A huge opening into the sleeping space is not protection from the weather elements. My husband drilled two small holes in the front of this shelter to allow the front part to drain.

The final shelter is from Feralvilla.  (Click on name for link.) This one has an insulated loft inside that a cat can crawl up into.  There are two entrances on the lower level.  I can particularly see this shelter in more rural areas that have brush.  We situated ours under a deck landing for more protection.


If you have stray or feral cats who won't come near the house, you might want to position the shelter where you see them nap.   We'll be putting our cedar shelter in a side garden where we've seen cats go for cover in the summer.  The other shelters are near our patio.   (That will be necessary if we want to add a heat pad.)  We found the secret to encouraging cats to use these shelters is catnip.  I plant cat mint nearby in our gardens, too.  Some people use food, but I don't recommend leaving that for any length of time.  Other critters forage for food and it's better to have a feeder in a separate area.  Outside heat pads are available and we will be using those in two of the shelters this winter.  If it's possible, the heat pad should be smaller than the sleep space so the cat can move off of it.  For the igloo, it's possible to buy a half-moon shaped heating pad.  I advise you to read the reviews on the heat pads to learn how to use them the best way.  There are stories there that are helpful...and heart-warming.

Cats are particular creatures, but they can be led with catnip, patience and love.  Bless anyone of you who rescues them or cares for them this season.


Zoie Joy

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

©2013 Karen Rose Smith 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Six Reasons I Give Away #Books!

Why do I give away books?

I give away books for several reasons.  I like to make readers happy.  What better way than to give them a signed copy of a book they'd like to read and maybe even keep.

I give away books to promote my next title.  If you read my book and you like it, I'm hoping you'll want to read more of my novels.

I give away books to be able to interact with my readers.  Maybe a reader will email me and let me know if they enjoyed the book.  We can start a dialogue that helps me know my readers better and helps them know me.

I give away books hoping a reader will write a review.  In the world of rate and review, I hope a reader will care enough to leave an honest review.  Supposedly the more reviews, the better a book sells.  I have as yet to see that, but I can hope!

I give away books at various venues to provide readers with multiple opportunities to win.  I blog on different websites.  I giveaway books on Goodreads.  I give away books at my newsletter IN TOUCH (don't forget to sign up here: IN TOUCH with KAREN ROSE SMITH newsletter  ) and from my blog and Facebook, too.  If you check my Facebook Karen Rose Smith Author page: KRS Facebook Page, I do giveaways there often.  My Caprice De Luca mystery series street team has contests as well as book giveaways.

I think the best reason I give away books is to thank my readers for supporting me in the many phases of my career.  Now, as I add mysteries to my romance repertoire, I hope you will follow me into that genre, too.

I'm giving away 2 autographed print copies of ALWAYS DEVOTED at Goodreads:  Goodreads Giveaway

I'm giving away a copy of MARRYING DR. MAVERICK at HarlequinJunkies.  Harlequin Junkies Giveaway

If you leave a comment on this blog, your name will go into a drawing for an ebook copy of HER SISTER. 

Good luck!!!

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

©2013 Karen Rose Smith