Friday, May 30, 2014

#Prayer Of Quiet by Donna Fasano

Are you wrapped up in email, internet searches, family crises, and a to-do list that's too long to ever accomplish? Then you might want to consider PRAYER OF QUIET by Donna Fasano. Donna is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author whose fiction novels have sold nearly 4 million copies worldwide.  PRAYER OF QUIET is Donna's first work of non-fiction.

Do you wish you could escape the chaos of the world?  The PRAYER OF QUIET is a spiritual practice that can be used every single day to help you do just that.  Communing with God in utter stillness is a method of devotion that is deeply rooted int he Christian tradition and has life-changing potential.

PRAYER OF QUIET is a short, simple instruction book offered as a means to open our eyes and our hearts so we might become more aware of God.  It might be time to stop talking and start listening.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A #Cat #Cozy #Mystery by Elaine Faber

Cat lovers are special people!  And we seem to find each other.  So when I learned that Elaine had published a cat cozy mystery, I offered to post information about her book on my blog.  I'm especially fond of black cats since we have two!

Read about Elaine Faber and her cozy mystery BLACK CAT'S LEGACY below.


My new novel, BLACK CAT'S LEGACY, is a cozy mystery featuring Thumper, the tuxedo cat with six toes on each foot.  The story is partly written from the POV of Thumper who, with his ancestors' memories, knows where the bodies are buried and must help solve a cold case murder.  About 20% of the story is seen through his eyes.  A romance between the protagonist and a pulp fiction writer intertwines with the mystery as someone at the lodge will stop at nothing to hide the Fern Lake mysteries.

When I started writing BLACK CAT'S LEGACY, I thought the story was about a shy divorcee and her child seeking a new life in Oregon.  Little did I know that before we even got to Oregon, Thumper appeared and, as is often the case, he took over the story.

Writing from a cat's point of view is a balancing act between giving the cat human emotions, thoughts and incentives, yet keeping him a real cat who is motivated by all things cat.

Having "belonged to cats" all my life, I think I have a pretty good idea of what makes them tick and I've been told I do a fair job at giving Thumper a combination of human yet decidedly feline characteristics.

BLACK CAT'S LEGACY is the first of a series of three novels with Thumper and his family.  I am also working on a humorous novel set during World War II.  The protagonist is an eccentric older woman who has a tendency to see conspiracies and Nazi spies everywhere she looks.  Never let a disaster such as war go to waste.  Now, we can look back at the deprivations and rationing of the war years, make jokes and laugh.  I'm sure it wasn't very funny to the folks who lived through it.

Click here to visit Elaine Faber's Mind Candy Mysteries Blog

Excerpt from BLACK CAT'S LEGACY:

Thumper hunkered beneath the bushes.  The moon cast a yellow glow across the boat and passengers as it glided through the water.  The engine roared and Jack pulled Amanda onto his lap.  The boat chugged out of sight onto the dark and silent lake.

There was nothing Thumper could do to change the facts.  Sadly, Jack had taken Amanda.  The situation would have to resolve itself.  Fate.


Thumper's head shot up.  There!  Fallen from the nest in a nearby tree.  A mother bird's distress call answered.  By jingo, important cat things were afoot.  He slipped from beneath the bush and padded toward the sound.  A squirming baby bird lay on the ground while the mother squawked and dived over Thumper's head.  She'd lost her baby...just like Kimberlee.

Thumper picked up the baby bird in his mouth and crept back to Kimberlee's cabin.  She's be sleeping inside. He dropped the baby bird on the porch and scratched at the door.  

Wouldn't she be pleased? Perhaps his gift would make her feel better, now that her child was gone and she was alone...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

#Irises and Mason Jars--Memorial Day Musings by Karen Rose Smith

Irises are usually blooming for Memorial Day.

When I was a child, Memorial Day was a special holiday.  I'd lost an uncle in WW II.  Another uncle as well as my dad served, too.  Back then my dad drove a Ford Country Squire station wagon that was blue with wood on the sides.  My mom and aunt, grandmother and I would fill the back with Mason jars full of irises, peonies, lilacs and anything else that was pretty and blooming in the gardens.  Then we'd drive to an old cemetery, one with 3-4 foot high statues and memorials.

It was like a church service as we placed the jars, not only on service members graves but also on those graves of anyone in the family we'd lost--or on those plots of lost one in our friends' families.  And then we'd say a private prayer.

That evening, we had a picnic with family, sharing memories and making new ones.

Memorial Day was important.  It meant remembering and family and history and prayer.

Hoping your Memorial Day is filled with all of those too.

Copyright 2014 Karen Rose Smith

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Best Five Places To Visit In My #Cozy Town of Kismet, #Pennsylvania by Karen Rose Smith

When you take a trip or move to a new place, you want to know the best places to visit.  My fictional town of Kismet is located in South Central Pennsylvania where I was born. This is a beautiful area with farmland, fields, woods and even rolling hills. The area where I've set Kismet is between York and Harrisburg which gives my sleuth Caprice De Luca access to bigger towns and cities, including Lancaster, Baltimore and D.C.

If you asked a resident of Kismet to answer this question--What are the best five places to visit in Kismet--he or she would probably give you this list!

Since my sleuth Caprice loves animals and takes in strays, PERKY PAWS is one of her favorite business in Kismet to shop in.  He shop is animal friendly.  The front case carries an assortment of biscuits: peanut butter nuggets, gingerman-sized ginger biscuits, pumpkin biscuits, and cheese and bacon biscuits.  Colorful dog cookies also decorate the case and are adorned with yogurt icing.  Her pup, Lady, notices them, too, and stands at the case as if she expects one to jump out at her so she can eat it.  At PERKY PAWS, Caprice can pick up anything she needs from a kitty bed to good food for her furry friends to eat.

The BLUE MOON GRILLE holds memories for Caprice.  She shared a romantic date there with Dr. Seth Randolph.  The line for seating sometimes stretches through its reception area on the first floor of an arts and crafts mall and practically out the front door.  Stairs lead to the second floor dining area and the deck outside.  Chatter in the main dining room is loud sometimes around the bar but there is a gas fireplace that makes it cozy on wintry nights.  Sliding glass doors open to the outside deck.  There is always a vase of wildflowers on the tables.  Black wrought iron chairs with rounded backs have cushy cushions tied to the backs and the seats.  The glass-topped tables hold white placemats, silverware and crystal.  The outside deck is lovely on a moonlit night.  On the night Seth and Caprice have dinner there, Seth arranges for a guitarist to play Caprice's favorite music from the 60's and 70's.  The restaurant is especially known for its huge soft pretzels with crab and cheese topping.

The De Lucas are Catholic and Caprice's faith is important to her. The family attends Mass and other services at St. Francis of Assisi Church.  Behind the church there is a garden with a statue of St. Francis Assisi, who is considered the patron saint and protector of animals. Caprice's admiration for St. Francis must play a part in her love for animals.  Her sister calls her a "stray animal magnet" and she finds homes for the strays she takes in.  When Caprice needs to think through a situation, she sometimes sits in the St. Francis garden.  The statue always has seasonal flowers planted around it from daffodils and hyacinths in the spring, to geraniums in summer to mums in the fall.  It's a peaceful and relaxing spot with a cement bench that fits three.  
Caprice is a retro girl.  Her house was built int he 1950's.  She has decorated her house with 1950's furniture and 1960's colors.  Her Nana Celia collected Fostoria crystal through the years and handed it down to Caprice's mom when she moved in with her son and daughter-in-law.  Caprice often uses antiques in staging houses which is her profession.  One of her favorite shops to peruse--from furniture to antique jewelry is OLDER AND BETTER owned by Isaac Hobbs.  Isaac often gives Caprice important gossip and information about collectibles that helps her solve murder cases.  In his shop she can weave in and out of primitive cupboards, pie safes and hand carved rockers.

ALL ABOUT YOU is a unique dress shop opened by Caprice's good friend Roz Winslow.  In the first book of the series, STAGED TO DEATH, Roz was a suspect in her husband's murder investigation.  Once all the dust settled, she decided to use her fashion sense to open a store where all women (not just those who are a size 2) can find fashions they like.  In book 3, GILT BY ASSOCIATION, Caprice finds a forties style fuchsia dress for the Valentine's Day dance at ALL ABOUT YOU.

The dress shop is located in what Kismet residents call Restoration Row.  It is a street of row houses in an older section of town.  Officially a developer named the street Bristol Row when his company refurbished the houses, sand blasting brick, refacing the fronts, putting siding over clapboard, adding black shutters and making the street respectable once again.  Roz rented of the houses for ALL ABOUT YOU.
The store has an unusual layout, with two stories and separate rooms for specific types of fashions.  The back entrance has an insidee stairway with a chairlift for anyone disable who whats to shop there.  There is a ramp out back, too, for the first floor as well as limited parking.  Roz has gone to a lot of trouble to make this boutique exactly the way she wanted with woman shoppers in mind.

You can read more about Caprice, her family and her penchant for solving murders in the Caprice De Luca Home-stager Mystery series, published by Kensington Books.
STAGED TO DEATH, December 2013
Copyright 2014 Karen Rose Smith

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bunnies, gardens and writing! by Karen Rose Smith

I'm sharing my gardens. At first I spotted the baby bunny in the garden at the far end of the yard where mostly lilies grow. A good place for him to live with protection, shade and lots of room. A few evenings later, he was half way up the yard in the lettuce garden. We have enough to share. (Can you tell I'm a furry creature lover?) The morning after that he was on the patio and shot past me from under the grill. Better protection against the rain? Since I've realized he's nibbling at my zinnias and sunflowers after they grow a few inches, I planted even more zinnias than he'd want to eat. (We always have to thin them anyway.) I maneuvered around the problem of growing sunflowers by starting a few inside, then putting a protective collar around them when I plant them outside. I have a few now that are about six inches tall. I'm not going to gather up the bunnies and relocate them...or do them any harm. I enjoy watching them and appreciate them as much as the flowers in the gardens.

Writing is my vocation. It's also my career and my job. I write at least three books a year. When I delve into my writing, when I pick up my tape recorder, I go to my figurative garden. But there are lots of bunnies constantly running around, gnawing at my time—email loops to keep me professionally informed, individual emails, phone calls from friends and relatives...and telemarketers. There are the deadlines for blogs, copyedits, posts to Twitter and Facebook, my e-zine and photos to be taken of prizes for contests. It would be easy to let all of it distract me from writing. My protection against it all? The answering machine, the on-off switch on the tech devices, the closing of doors, the escape to the garden with my tape recorder where I can leave it all behind.  Now I mostly write at night when there are no distractions, when I can focus on my characters and plot, when my writing sweeps me away. Sometimes naps are necessary but life always seems to be about prioritizing.

I can coexist with my bunny friends.

I can write in spite of distractions.

After all, isn't life all about balance?

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

June 3, 7-10 p.m. EST

Street Team Giveaway Prizes for DEADLY DECOR launch

My STREET TEAM CAPRICE works hard for me, leaving reviews, liking and sharing on Facebook, handing out post cards to friends and family and generally spreading the word about my Caprice De Luca home staging mystery series. To celebrate the launch of DEADLY DECOR on June 3, 2014, I'm having a giveaway just for my street team.  Below are collages of the prizes.  I'll give directions on how to enter in my Facebook group, our Yahoo group and in email.

Thank you for all you do to make my Caprice De Luca home stager mystery series a success!


Leather and silver charm bracelet                                        Caprice style gauzy tote bag
Lavender sachet                                                                  Hammered brass fashion bracelet

Small hummingbird garden flag                    Sparkly heart key chain       Print copy NATHAN'S VOW
Cocker Spaniel tote bag                                                                         Cocker pups mouse pad

Starbucks gift card $10                   Decorative glass cat                                  Lady 3D magnet
Puppy lady and Patches 3D magnet                                                                  Amazon gift card $10

Puppy Lady mouse pad                                                                     Beaded vintage style evening purse
Pop Art spatula                                                                                 Stuffed decorative cat

If you're visiting this page and you'd like to know more about TEAM CAPRICE, click STREET TEAM CAPRICE!!!

FACEBOOK LAUNCH FOR DEADLY DECOR with more giveaways on June 3, from 7-10 p.m at:

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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

Sunday, May 18, 2014

An Interview With #Narrator Leslie Ellis--The Search For Emma by Karen Rose Smith

I've developed 16 books into audiobooks through  Each time I post a project for auditions, I consider the point of view of my main character as the foremost aspect of choosing a narrator.  I was sure I wanted a woman narrator for ALWAYS DEVOTED, though many of my romances are narrated by male narrators.  ALWAYS DEVOTED--a romance/mystery--is definitely Emma's story.  So I went on a search for the perfect voice for Emma.  I sent messages to narrators, asking them to audition.  I received several auditions for the novel after I uploaded the audition script.  Leslie's audition easily stood out from all the others.  As soon as I heard her voice, I knew she was perfect to tell this emotional story.

My readers often ask me about my narrators and the process of reading an audiobook.  That's why I do interviews with my narrators.

So...let me introduce my actor/narrator for ALWAYS DEVOTED, Leslie Ellis.

Leslie, can you tell me where you were raised?

I was raised outside of Boston, MA.

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

It's funny, but I didn't read a lot as a kid.  I came from a very academic family and I was the black sheep, so to speak.  I just wanted to act and sing.  I really enjoy reading now, when I have the time and I love supporting my friends who have become indie writers!

Where did you attend college?

I attended Carnegie-Mellon University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Acting and Music.

What did you expect to do after college and, in reality, what did you do? 

After school, we all shipped out to New York City to take the world by storm.  While I was there, I played some lead roles on Broadway (Griz in CATS; LA CAGE AUX FOLLES; CITY OF ANGELS) and Off-Broadway in a revival of THE ROTHSCHILDS.

Since those early days, what else has furthered your career?

Since my days in New York City, I've acted in movies, industrial films and commercials and become a hard-working voice over artist.  I narrated before for films and then got into book narrating, which I absolutely love.

Why did you decide to begin narrating audiobooks?

I have listened to audiobooks forever and always thought I could be good at it.  I love the variety of characters that I have to embrace and analyzing the different ways, pitches and speeds of their voices.  Teenagers speak VERY differently from their dads!  I would love to get into doing more accents in future books as I studied dialects in school and absolutely love acting with dialects.

Can you explain to our readers what is involved in the process from setting up a home studio, to editing, to putting the book for sale.  How long does it take?

In my case, I had some help setting up my home studio.  I got advice from a fellow narrator in LA and a friend in Nashville who is a professional studio engineer.  I use an AT2020 USB mic and either Audacity or Protools.  Both of these programs make it very easy (albeit time consuming) to edit the files once I have them read down.  I think people would be really surprised to find out how much time goes into one hour of narrating.  As I'm approaching it from the standpoint of an actor instead of a reader/narrator, I'm sure it takes me a lot longer because I really need to get the characters and their emotions right.  I will work anywhere from three to six hours to produce a finished hour of audiobook.  I work through so they handle all of the sales elements of the finished book.

I want to mention here that Leslie is a perfectionist in the best way, redoing an audition piece until it's right, going over editing to improve sound in question.  When I hired Leslie, I knew she was the voice of my heroine and she never wavered from that.

What is the toughest part of narrating?

Keeping my voice in shape.  In addition to books, I do professional voice overs, sing demos and do live music shows.  I have to keep disciplined about warming up, talking, singing and resting!

Why narrate a romance?  

I have narrated young adult books, mysteries and what they call "Chick Lit."  I've also narrated tech stuff.  ALWAYS DEVOTED was my first romance novel and it intrigued me.  I wanted to make the sensual scenes sound really real--not corny or overly dramatic.  I took the challenge because I've been told my voice would lend itself well to a romantic story.

Leslie's take on the love scenes was perfect.  Not overly dramatic, not underplayed, but just right.  Perfect for the tone of the book.

Can anything in an author's history sway you toward narrating thier book?

If I'm doing a book for royalty share, I have to feel that author has a sense of sales and promotion because that's the only way I get paid.  When I'm not sure of what to expect, I often opt for the union per hour wage to ensure I use my time wisely.

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

I would say singing, acting and songwriting.  I love flipping around among all of it.  It keeps things interesting!

Find out more about Leslie at

Hear a sample of ALWAYS DEVOTED or buy at:

ALWAYS DEVOTED Audiobook on Amazon

ALWAYS DEVOTED Audiobook on Audible

ALWAYS DEVOTED now avaiable in audiobook

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

#Cats and #Dogs in Karen Rose Smith's #Cozy #Mystery Series

I am an animal lover. When I decided to write a cozy mystery, I wanted dogs and cats to play a part in my sleuth's life because they play an important part in mine.  My amateur sleuth, Caprice De Luca, takes in strays and finds them loving homes.  In the first book, STAGED TO DEATH, which was released in December 2013, readers get to know Sophia who was named after Caprice's nana's favorite actress, Sophia Loren.  Caprice found this beautiful calico soon after she bought her house and considered her a "welcome to the neighborhood" gift!  Sophia's turquoise carpeted cat tree and her tablespoons of dairy cream (not all cats can digest dairy but Sophia can) keep her quite happy and content--along with Caprice's love and affection, of course.

In book 1, Caprice has also taken in a stray dog--part Pomeranian and part Shitzu--whom she named Dylan after the folk singer.  Caprice, at 32, is a retro gal.

In this first mystery, two yellow tabby kittens also come into Caprice's care.  She names them Creamsicle and Stripes.

In DEADLY DECOR, book 2 of the series, Caprice and Sophia are again best buddies...until Caprice finds a stray Cocker Spaniel in her mom's heirloom tomato plants!  (Her sister Bella calls her a stray animal magnet.)  To top off this discovery, Caprice learns this canine is pregnant.  She names her new friend Shasta because she is the color of the Shasta daisies in Caprice's backyard.

To give you a glimpse into book 3, GILT BY ASSOCIATION, Caprice finds a gray tabby kitten in her backyard one cold winter night.  This book has a Valentine's Day theme so guess what she names the kitten. If you've guessed Valentine, you've guessed correctly!

And, by the way, what do you think happened to Shasta's pups in book 2?

Read DEADLY DECOR to find out.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

June 3, 7-10 p.m. EST

Saturday, May 10, 2014

#Flowers In Honor Of #Mom by Karen Rose Smith

Mother's Day is a bittersweet holiday for anyone who has lost his or her mother.  Remembrance is so important.  Avoiding loss just brings more of it.  At times, embracing it is the best therapy.  One way I remember my mom and embrace her again, is to plant her favorite flowers in our gardens.  These forget-me-nots which are truly appropriate bloom every year around Mother's Day. They spread their little blue blossoms far and wide and can be transplanted to different locations.  My mom loved them.

When I was a child in elementary school, I often took flowers to my teacher.  (My mom was an elementary school teacher and I know how she appreciated them.)  In May, my mom and I would go to our backyard early before school started and cut a bouquet to take along.  We have a traditional lilac.  But we also planted these reblooming lilacs.  They're gorgeous in spring but will bloom again a few times over the summer.  Remembrance throughout the season.

At my childhood home, we had a small bank near a fence.  Fuchsia and white creeping phlox adorned that bank.  Even though we had a particularly harsh winter in Pennsylvania this year, the creeping phlox are more beautiful than I've ever seen them.

You know how you get that "welcome home" feeling when you see your front yard?  In the spring, fuchsia azaleas bloomed under our dining room and living room windows at my childhood home.  Although azaleas are sometimes have a difficult time wintering, the ones there lasted from the time we moved in until the year I had to sell the house.  We've had trouble growing them where we live now, but we bought two little bushes last year that somehow made it through this winter. They're blooming.

At Easter and Mother's Day, we often gave my mom hyacinths which were one of her favorite flowers.  She loved the scent.  One year as she was growing older and couldn't plant them, she returned one to us to plant in our garden.  Twenty years later, it's still growing.  Hyacinths are one of the first flower signs that a new blooming season is upon us.  This garden which also has her favorite summer flowers--like daisies, roses and zinnias--is my way of feeling closer to her.

May your mother's hand touch yours in some way this Mother's Day.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Friday, May 9, 2014

#Breadmaker #Oat and Honey #Bread

When I mentioned on Facebook that I made Oatmeal Bread in our breadmaker and posted this photo, friends asked for the recipe.  So I thought I'd post it here in case anyone else would like to try it.  We make our own bread to avoid preservatives and plastic wrap that taints the taste of the bread.

This recipe came with our Oster Breadmaker.  I'm not a fan of wheat and we're trying to eat healthier. So we tried oats!

Oatmeal Bread

1 and 1/4 cups water
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3/4 cups quick-cook oats
1 and 3/4 teaspoons salt
3 and 3/4 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons oat bran
2 tablespoons dry milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1. Measure and add liquid ingredients to the bread pan.
2. measure and add dry ingredients (except yeast) to the bread pan.
3. Use your finger to form a well (hole) in the flour where you will pout the yeast.  Yeast must NEVER come into contact with a liquid when you are adding ingredients.  Measure the yeast and carefull pour it into the well.
4. Snap the baking pan into the breadmaker and close the lid.
5. Press "Select" button to choose the Basic setting.
6. Press the "Crust Color" button to choose light, medium or dark crust.
7. Press the "Start/Stop" button.

This breadmaker was a gift that I enjoy constantly.
Have a great "breadmaking" experience!

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spring Edition of IN TOUCH with KAREN ROSE SMITH--News, Photos, Contest

It's spring!!!! Finally.  And I have so much news for my readers.  I've included the latest releases, DEADLY DECOR (Caprice De Luca home staging mystery series) launch party info for June 3, book signings, giveaways and ongoing projects, as well as "around the house" photos of my gardening and my constant companions--my cats: Ebbie, London and Zoie Joy.

As usual in my newsletters, there is a contest for a print copy of STAGED TO DEATH as well as a sparkling Hello Kitty keychain.

I hope you enjoy this latest edition.  Good luck in the contest!


 IN TOUCH with KAREN ROSE SMITH newsletter

Sunday, May 4, 2014

#Cat Trees, Cat condos and Cat steps (including cute cat #photos) by Karen Rose Smith

Anyone who reads my blogs or follows me on Facebook and Twitter knows that I'm a cat lover. I've had cats as companions since I was about eight years old which has helped me learn about their habits, preferences and needs. At the moment my husband and I are parents to three rescued cats--two are thirteen years old (Ebbie--a beautiful sable/black cat, and London--a gray tabby).  The little one Zoie Joy (a black feline with half a tuxedo) is two.

Just as we try to make the humans we live with happy, the same is true of taking care of cats and dealing with their personalities.  Cat trees, cat condos and cat steps help keep ours happy, healthy and contented.

It seems to be the nature of felines to want to perch high in a room to overlook the window, yards and everything inside.  A floor to ceiling cat tree can fit in a corner by a window and serve several purposes.  A cat can be high off the ground and feel safe.  He or she can share the space with a sibling and still have her or his own space.  Most cat trees are carpeted and can be used as scratching posts.

Cat condos come in all sizes. Some include a secluded space where a feline can feel secure.  Our smallest, Zoie, likes burrow holes to take naps.  Usually condos are sized to fit right at a window so cats can be entertained by the world outside without being harmed by it.  Condos are usually carpeted or covered with sisal for happy scratching.
London and Zoie
Ebbie and Zoie

Our oldest cat, Ebbie, hurt her back a few years ago.  She wouldn't move from my bed for about ten days, except to use her litter box.  I found a set of stairs she can easily climb to see out a window.  I've expanded them with a bench on one side and boxes on the other to give her a little room to spread out when she's hurting.  She didn't particularly like the steps in order to climb to the bed.  But she did like this hassock type condo for that purpose.  It gives her enough space to be able to get a good footing to hop to the bed.  (We move everything around to suit their needs and ours!)
London and Zoie

Ebbie, London and Zoie use all of the above.  We've been collecting them for many years. Here are a few places where I found condos, steps, and cat trees.

Drs. Foster & Smith


Amazon (pet supplies)

In my Caprice De Luca home staging mystery series, Caprice is an animal lover too!  She takes in strays and finds them homes.  She has a long-haired calico named Sophia and has equipped Sophia with a floor to ceiling, turquoise carpeted cat tree which my cover artist put on the cover!