Monday, December 30, 2013

Cranberry-Orange #Scones #Recipe, a Holiday favorite from Karen Rose Smith

Whenever I tweet or post on Facebook about these CRANBERRY ORANGE SCONES, a friend asks for the recipe. This is a family favorite especially this time of year and what I really love about them is that they freeze well so you can make them ahead of time. So enjoy!

 2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar plus another teaspoon on the side for sprinkling on top before baking
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (frozen)
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup ground pecans
1 tablespoon orange rind grated
1/2 cup sour cream (sometimes I add a little more if I need it for dough to stick together!)
1 large egg (make sure it's large)
400 degree oven
parchment paper (you can get it in a roll to tear off as needed)

Mix flour, sugar (1/3) cup, baking powder, soda and salt. Grate frozen butter into flour mixture. Work in butter. Stir in cranberries, nuts, and orange rind. Whisk sour cream and egg until smooth. Using fork, stir into flour mixture. Make ball. You can form into individual scones--I get seven.  OR pat onto lightly floured surface to 8 inch circle. Sprinkle with sugar. Cut into 9 triangles. Set either triangles or round scones sprinkled with sugar on cookie sheet covered with parchment. Bake 15-17 minutes until golden brown.

Tip--Grate the butter frozen but then after it's grated, let it sit for about ten minutes. It's easier to work into the flour mixture.

©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 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Why I Maintain Two #Facebook Pages by Karen Rose Smith

I began with a profile page on Facebook years ago.  I always intended it to be a place where readers could find me.  Even now, I don't concern myself with privacy settings on the page because I talk about my interests--cats, gardening, cooking and comments about trending subjects.  This is where readers can see a personal side of my life.  I've developed an interest in photography and on this page I share my photos of my cats, gardens, foods and scenes I find captivating.  (Including the buffet of foods at friends on Thanksgiving Day!)

Karen's FACEBOOK Profile Page

Not long after I developed the personal page, other writers advised me to set up an "author" page because it was the thing to do.  This is the page readers must "like" before they can post on my wall.  On this page, I post mostly professional news about books, how my writing is developing, what I'm working on and what's coming up next.  Now and then I also post cat and garden photos and recipes that have something to do with my books.  I also do giveaways here.  The problem with this page is Facebook's algorithms and amount of readers I reach.  I have over 1000 likes.  However, if I post something and don't "boost" it, it might only reach 50 - 100 readers.  I often ask myself if that's worth my time because I won't pay to boost each post.  Not only that, but I can't even post some ads my cover designer developed for me because they have "too much text."

Karen's FACEBOOK Author Page

Is it worth keeping this page?  I'm still deciding.  I held a launch party for STAGED TO DEATH there in September and that was successful.  So it is a useful landing spot.

I've formed a Street Team group on Facebook where I interact often with readers who help spread the word about my books.  I've also formed a Readers Group where I do giveaways and talk about books.  I hope to have a discussion and question and answer session there in the new year about my Caprice De Luca mystery series. (One note about forming groups. You have to be friends with the person you want to add to the group before you can add them!  A "Like" from your author page doesn't do it.)

Facebook does take a lot of my time.  In the coming year, I'll be part of two new author groups--SUNFLOWER AUTHORS and RMS WRITERS--who are developing group pages.  I have more interaction with readers on Facebook than anywhere else.  After twenty-two years in the publishing business and over 80 published novels, I still believe I reach my audience one reader at a time.  Facebook has been a help in reaching them and getting to know them.,  I feel it's been time well invested.

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

©2013 Karen Rose Smith 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

All About #Narration, Part 2 of Karen Rose Smith's #Interview with Kristina Coggins

When I interviewed Kristina Coggins, my narrator for FOREVER AFTER, we covered a lot of ground.  In my previous interview with her, we discussed her background.  Now we get into the nitty gritty of character development and how she achieves it, along with tidbits concerning running a home studio.  I want to thank Kristina for the wonderful work she did on this book, bringing Seth--a cynical lawyer--and Darcy--a garage mechanic--to life.

Here is part 2 of her interview:

How do you know what voice to use for each character?

I look at all the clues in the text and sometimes create a list of what is said about each character, until I start to get a feel for who the person is.  I determine whether it is an incidental character, a supporting character or a main character.  I use the most authentic voice of myself for the main characters whether male or female, and then might change vocal placement, energy, pitch, pace or attitude for the others.

How do you keep them straight?

I make a separate file for each character and listen to it for consistency.

Do you feel as if you become the characters as you narrate?

Yes, definitely.  I think there is a little of all of us in every character.  Even irate fat old men.  That's the fun of it.

Do you read the book before you start to narrate scene by scene?

I always read the book and then re-read the chapters I want to accomplish before I narrate that day.

What is the toughest part of narrating?

It's really lonely being in a booth all day with nothing but your audience in your head and imaginary characters to keep you company.  I always am excited to see my real live people at the end of the day.  The constant deadlines are also hard to manage if you are trying to give your all to a book and treat your body and voice with care.

How do you protect your voice?

In spite of the deadlines, I try not to work too many hours so that my voice blows out.  I try to keep hydrated and well-exercised in my body.  There is a huge connection.

What's involved in the process from setting up a home studio, to editing, to putting the book for sale?

Hire an engineer, buy a booth, buy and understand all the equipment, learn the computer software.  It took me about six months to pull it all together and learn how to use it.  And I'm constantly learning and upgrading.

Editing takes longer than anything.  It takes three to five more hours per finished hour to get it right and requires much patience and actually requires an entire other skill set.  Editing is a creative act all of its own with rhythm, pacing and silence well-placed.

What do you look for in an author's history to sway you toward narrating their book?

If they have a story or style that is compelling to me.  I also want to be sure they have a viable following. 

What do you like to do most when you're not narrating? 

Landscape painting, travel and being with my family and friends.

What are you planning next?

I'm producing a young adult book by the author Louis Sachar called THE BOY WHO LOST HIS FACE, and the file adaptation of the new Disney story FROZEN.

ABOUT THE MUSIC:  My son is 19 and a fine musician.  For every book I've ever done, he has always done the music for before and after.  He asks about the style of the book, sometimes does a little research, listens to some of the narration of the book and comes up with the music.  It always adds to setting the tone of every project.  It has been such a joy to collaborate with him in this way.

A big thank you to Kristina and Sam for a wonderful production.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SLEIGH BELLS RING Giveaway, MP3 Players, an Ipod Nano and Audiobooks!

Audiobooks are becoming more and more popular as readers listen to them while driving, cooking, cleaning, wrapping presents and relaxing.  The mysteries, romances and suspense novels come alive in this genre that is growing day by day.  In celebration of the holidays and the readers who are "listening," I'm co-sponsoring a contest to give away listening devices for the pre-holiday celebrations.

What a great time of year for a huge giveaway!  Each day there will be one winner of a SanDisk Sansa Clip+ 4GB MP3 Player from December 14 to December 24.  Free audiobooks by many authors.

On December 25 there will be 1 winner of a 16GB Ipod Nano and twelve audiobooks.

Go to this link to enter.

I wish you much luck at winning one of these terrific prizes.  I hope your holidays are filled with friends, family and lots of love.
Karen Rose Smith

©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 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Interview with Kristina Coggins, #Narrator of FOREVER AFTER (#Audiobook) by Karen Rose Smith

I want to thank Kristina Coggins for the wonderful work she did narrating FOREVER AFTER, my newest audiobook release.  Kristina brought Seth and Darcy to life in this emotional and sensual story of a cynical custody lawyer and a pretty garage mechanic finding true love.  Kristina agreed to be interviewed so my readers and listeners could learn about her background and the process of developing an audiobook.  I also want to thank her son for the music he created to add to the beginning and end of the book.

Here is part 1 of our interview:

Tell us a little about your background.  Where are you from?

Originally from Arizona (5 generations), I moved to California and began my career as an actress for thirteen years until I had my two children when my family moved to Santa Barbara.  While I was a full-time mom, I also directed youth theatre and landscape painted until I began learning the ropes of audio book narration, directing and producing.

What was your schooling?

From first grade on, I loved telling stories.  The teachers made me read out loud to keep me from talking in class! In high school and college (Arizona State University in communication and theatre) my favorite thing was performing literature.  When, after years of acting on stage and television, I returned to literature, I had felt like I had come home.

How do you train to become a narrator? 

Some classes in technique and style are helpful, but the real training is in DOING.  It is a steep learning curve to be still for hours in a small booth, learning to use the mic, managing consistency in vocal technique, energy, mouth noises, body noises and driving a story while always thinking about the audience and the author's intent.  It's so much harder than it seems and I am continually humbled by its demands and continual challenges.

What has been your experience with narrating so far?

I simply love it.  Aside from the challenges mentioned above, I feel so blessed to be able to wake up in the morning and know I have a story waiting for me to tell.  I enjoy taking the audience on a journey and creating characters that support the author's style and intent.

What genre do you like narrating the best?

Literary fiction that is inspirational to the spirit.

Did you read a lot as a kid?  As an adult?

Yes.  Always have and always will.

Why did you decide to begin narrating audio books?

Raising children, I would paint while listening to countless hours of audio books (to help me focus).  Then I started to drive while listening, cook while listening...until one day I said, "I need to be doing this.  I am an actress, I understand literature, for God's sake, let's just learn how to do it!  So I did."

Coming soon--Part 2 of our interview and more about the process.

©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 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Naughty and Nice #Christmas Blog Hop


The Grand Prize is a Kindle Fire HDX 7".   Plus books to go on the winner's new Kindle.

There will also be daily prize giveaways as well as prizes at each stop.

Winners need to be in the US or Canada for prizes that need to be shipped.

All the rules and how the hop will work is listed on the Safari Heat site.  Follow the link below.

There are four ways you can earn extra entries into the grand prize giveaway:  You will get an entry for completing each of these things--leaving a comment, following my blog, following me on Facebook or Twitter.  When you leave a comment, you need to leave the following info.  Here is an example:

Name: Karen Rose Smith
E-mail:  (** Very important -- You must leave your email address to be eligible to win a prize.)
Comment: Great post
Twitter: Followed
Blog: Followed
Are you a reader or author: Author
Country you live in: United States

You are NOT required to do any of these, but if you do them all, you will get four entries.


Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

"White Christmas" are words that take us to a reverent place, stirring up carols and memories we might forget the rest of the year.  Snow frosting tree limbs calls up childhood memories when I wished for snow on Christmas Eve.  Why?  Because that pristine white conveyed the message that something awesome was about to happen.  Family lived close and snow simply meant putting chains on the tires to get where we wanted to go.  Snow meant that maybe after dinner on Christmas Day my cousins and I could build a snowman.

Moving forward a bit, I wished for a little snow on Christmas Eve but not much because my parents wouldn't be able to drive to our house to watch our son open his presents or listen to him chatter about Santa eating the cookies he left out for St. Nick.  White Christmas evokes recollections of Christmas concerts, carol sings and midnight Mass, watching the last scene in the movie when the generals' men stand to acknowledge him, when the romances end the way they were meant to.

Wishing you all a white Christmas and the memories that make it special.

Please share your "White Christmas" memories and have a wonderful holiday.

In addition to the prizes listed above, I will be giving away a $15 Amazon gift card and a set of note cards.  I will draw the winner from the comments on my blog.

To keep hopping follow the link below.  A list of all the daily prizes can be found there.

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

Monday, December 9, 2013

How to Make #Rose Sachets for #Christmas by Karen Rose Smith

If you're a rose gardener, or even if you just enjoy having a rose from the grocery store florist in your house several times a year, there's a way to enjoy roses all year long.  In past years, I collected rose petals from my garden each summer, dried them, and then made sachets in the fall to give away for Christmas.  Roses are a wonderful flower and many varieties keep their scent without any additional enhancement.  Sachets kept in a drawer with clothes keep their scent from six months to a year.

I'm particularly fond of the scent from Chrysler Imperial which also has a beautiful bud and bloom.  This year I knew I'd be short on time as far as drying rose petals.  I decided to save roses a little differently.  The roses were so plentiful this year, I could snip off buds without detracting from the beauty of the blooming blossoms.  I brought them inside, put them on an airy shelf or simply in a dish and waited until they were completely dry.  Then I kept them in a box so they would hold their scent.  Last week I sorted them and created sachets for the little girls (small sachet bags) and women (the larger bags) on my list!  Hopefully they can enjoy some of the joy I get from my roses throughout the year.

 ©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 


Sunday, December 8, 2013

#Recipe for Nana's #Minestrone from STAGED TO DEATH by Karen Rose Smith

What are some of my best memories with my mom and my grandmother?  Baking bread, watching pizza dough rise, rolling biscotti.  I still have my mom's recipe boxes and turn to them often.  My sleuth Caprice De Luca in STAGED TO DEATH comes from a large Italian family who likes to cook.  Writing these mysteries returns me to my childhood in many family dinners with aunts, uncles and those wonderful aromas wafting through the the conversation, laughter and even arguments around the table.  In the winter months, the aroma riding the air was grated garlic, tomatoes, broth simmering, and bay leaf steaming.

Soup and home-made baked bread went together so well!  To give my readers a preview of one of the recipes in STAGED TO DEATH, here is a soup recipe I developed through the years that is taken from the book.  I called it Nana's Minestrone--named for my Nana Rosalie and for Caprice's Nana Celia.


Nana's Minestrone Soup

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup medium pasta shells
1 cup onion (medium) chopped
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt (Salt to taste, depending on the type of broth you use.)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
A pinch to 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes with juice (14-16 oz. each)
1 cup tomato juice
1 quart chicken broth
1 quart beef stock (If using your own, make sure it's full-bodied. You can add bouillon cubes to make it richer.)
1/2-1 lb. fresh endive or escarole, snipped or cut into 1/2 inch pieces (leafy green part only)
1 can Great Northern beans (drained)
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup shredded carrots (I buy them this way.)
1 cup shredded cabbage (I buy cabbage already shredded or slaw mixture)
1 cup sliced zucchini
1 cup cut green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 bay leaf
Romano cheese to sprinkle on top

Brown ground beef on medium in olive oil in 8 quart soup pot.  When browned (no pink remaining), add chopped onion, grated garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper.  Stir for a minute to mix flavors.  Add tomato juice, tomatoes, salt and stir.  Add beef stock and chicken broth, then bring to a boil.  Stir in Northern beans, celery, carrots, zucchini, cabbage and green beans.  (If using frozen green beans, bring soup to a boil again before adding endive.)  Add endive last.

Bring soup to a boil again, add bay leaf, then simmer covered on low for 30 minutes.  Bring to a boil again, remove bay leaf, add pasta, stir once more and cook until pasta is the way you like it, usually 10-12 minutes, without lid.  Stir a few times while pasta is cooking.  Sprinkle each serving with Romano cheese and serve with crusty bread.  Makes 12-15 servings.

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

©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, December 4, 2013

Adaptation is the Greatest #Gift, A #Wolf Can Teach Humans by Karen Rose Smith

Life provides us with lots of obstacles to overcome.  Sometimes I need a reminder about how to handle them. A wolf reminded me that adaptation is the greatest gift of all.

After watching the packs of wolves at Speedwell Forge Wolf Sanctuary, seeing them interact and learning their stories, I did have a favorite. I adopted Thor.  Maybe it was Thor's story I related to.  He has cataracts and can probably only see shadows.  Thor has a mate named Lucky and together they form a pack of two.  They are a close pair.  Although Thor can't see well, he can hold his own in every situation.  He knows every inch of the territory he shares with Lucky...where they roam.

When I was fifty years old, I learned I had the cataracts of a seventy-year-old.  Doctors didn't know what caused them. Because of other complications I didn't have surgery for about four years.  Colors had changed.  My world grew very cloudy and narrow.  However, my other senses became more acute.  I compensated by memorizing my environment as best as I could.  This is Thor's world.

I finally had surgery and near-vision implants. But the technology just isn't there in veterinary medicine to enable cataract surgery.  Not only that, but there is high toll on an animal who is captured, anesthetized, and operated on.

On my private tour at Speedwell Forge, I spent lots of time observing and photographing Thor because I was fascinated with him.  He looks peaceful, serene even, in tune with his surroundings and with Lucky.  Those were just my impressions.

Speedwell Forge's Adopt A Wolf program is explained here at their website. ADOPT A WOLF link  When visitors to the sanctuary adopt a wolf, that helps pay for his or her care. And by the can give an adopted wolf as a Christmas present!

I'll soon have my adoption packet for Thor.  With it will come a photo by wildlife photographer Chuck Rineer that I'm going to frame and hand in my office.  There is a good reason for that.  By seeing Thor's photograph, I will remember to be a learn to make obstacles just part of life's journey.

Read Karen's new mystery. Her sleuth Caprice De Luca is an animal lover too!

 ©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 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

#Contest to #win #AUDIOBOOKS from Ten Authors

I'm banding together with nine other authors to promote the campaign--Don't Text And Drive...Listen To An Audiobook!  To get the word out, we have developed a contest for readers to win an audiobook.

Where else do you have the chance to win an audiobook from one of ten bestselling authors! Just look at this list.

Judith Arnold
Evelyn David
Donna Fasano
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Stacy Juba
Patricia McLinn
Kelly McClymer
Kathryn Shay
Karen Rose Smith

To enter, go to The Incredible Indie Authors Audio Page on Facebook.  Like the page, then click on the tab in the upper right with the earphones--under the banner .  You can enter the giveaway there and also learn about ways to earn more chances to win.

To watch our YouTube Video for the Don't Text And Drive...Listen to an Audiobook! campaign, click on the link.

Good luck!!!

©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 


Monday, December 2, 2013

How I Branched Out Into #Mystery by Karen Rose Smith

Today is RELEASE DAY!!! 

And here is how it happened.

For the past few years, I thought about stepping out of the romance genre.  After all, publishing is changing drastically and, just as in finances, I believe the secret to success--if there is one--is diversification.  On the other hand, I've been branded as a romance author for the past twenty years with over eighty books published traditionally, and what publisher would take a chance that my readers would cross over?

With the decline in brick and mortar bookstores and therefore print sales, I took advantage of the indie publishing craze to start a series with backlist titles that I'd regained the rights to.  Thank goodness.  Because those books started me on a new road to promotion for those indie titles, both backlist and original.  I liked publishing "between" genres with those originals. Fortunately I had some success with indie books, hitting the top twenty on Amazon's Romance and Contemporary Romance bestseller lists in both paid and free sales.  The first year I progressed into serious promotion on Twitter by hiring a social media consultant for a few months.  I redid covers.  I learned what looked good in a thumbnail and what didn't.  I watched my indie numbers when I tried something new.  I continued to build my Facebook following.

Throughout the past ten years, I listened to thrillers and suspense, once in a while a cozy mystery.  The problem with branching out had always been a matter of writing time and timing.  In 2011, the perfect opportunity presented itself.  I was between contracts and I happened to be meeting with my agent face to face for brunch at a conference.  He told me an editor had asked about me writing a cozy mystery.  At first I thought that was completely out of my court.  But we had a two hour discussion that day and an idea was born.  That evening my husband and I discussed the possibility and came up with names for the large Italian family I wanted to build in the novel.  The next day on the drive home, I wrote up a synopsis.  Monday morning my agent, Evan Marshall, submitted it to John Scognamiglio at Kensington.  He liked it and wanted to see a more detailed outline.  I put that together and then wrote the first two chapters, delineated the continuing characters, and provided blurbs for two more books.  My agent submitted it.  Next John asked for a package--bio, book list, social media, website, and I included lists I'd made recently.  Within six weeks, I had a three-book cozy mystery contract for the Caprice De Luca home-stager series.  This was the fastest anything in publishing had ever moved for me.  It seemed meant to be.

My first mystery, STAGED TO DEATH, is released today.  The second mystery, DEADLY DECOR, has just done through the copyedit process.  I'm working on the third.  I've written more romances, both traditionally published and indie, in between.  I like the mix.  I like the challenge.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity to try something new...and branch out.

On Sale December 3

 ©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 


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Tuesday evening: #Facebook Launch Party for STAGED TO DEATH by Karen Rose Smith

I'm having a Facebook Launch Party for my first cozy in my Caprice De Luca home staging mystery series, STAGED TO DEATH! The event will be held on my Facebook Author page from 6-9 p.m. EST on Tuesday evening, December 3, 2013.  There will be giveaways and other prizes--Beatles magnets (Caprice is a retro gal), quirky spatulas (she likes to cook), as well as an ebook every fifteen minutes.

I'm so excited about the launch of this series.  Reviews have been flowing in.

"Prolific series author Smith shows her romance chops with her debut cozy mystery set in small-town Pennsylvania...the ensemble cast is charming." Library Journal

"A cozy blend of murder and romance. A fun read--with recipes." Laura Levine, Mystery Author

"Karen Rose Smith has always been able to create compelling characters who seem like folks in your neighborhood, and STAGED TO DEATH is a clever example of her capable talent." Amelia Richard,

"Karen Rose Smith has written a tight little murder mystery with plenty of engaging subplots. Her expertise as a successful romance writer becomes evident in the tension created between Caprice and her love interests." New York Journal of Books

Come join me to celebrate on my Facebook Author page on December 3 from 6-9 p.m. EST. We'll chat, celebrate and have a great time.  "Like" the page and you can chat along with us.  See you there!