Sunday, July 27, 2014

Twenty Years With My Agent by Karen Rose Smith

My agent and I have been working together for 20 years.  Evan Marshall and I have been through thick, thin and everything in between through contracts for over 80 books.  He has the best public relation skills of anyone I know.

I first met Evan Marshall of the Evan Marshall Agency back in 1988 when I was unpublished and searching for my first agent.  I attended  the Washington Romance Writers Conference in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and managed an appointment with him.  He impressed me that day by reading one of my synopses and giving me pointers.  He was easy to talk to and had a way of listening that I liked.  He did not accept me as a client then.  I did find an agent at that conference.  But when she and I parted ways in 1994, I remembered Evan and found the business card that I'd saved.

In the summer of 1994, the Romance Writers of America had their conference in New York City.  By then, I was published with two houses and had five published romances under my belt.  I made coffee meetings with three agents, asking them all my list of questions.  I had contacted them and sent them one of my novels ahead of time.  Evan Marshall was the one who stood out, the one who'd actually read one of my romances.  He said, "I love your work and want to represent you."  He didn't want to represent one book, but the career that lay ahead of me.  We began our association that summer and it has been successful and lasted for all these years.

Evan "gets me" and my work and what I want to accomplish.  He always has.  When I'm going through a difficult patch, he helps me keep an even keel and do what's best for my career, not what's best for the moment.  Because of him, I have branched out from contemporary romance into mystery the past two years and I'm so glad I did.  I don't know where my career will lead.  But I'm booked with writing contracts for the next few years.

If you are searching for an agent, look for that person who understands you, your work and what you want to accomplish...not just for today but for the years ahead.

Award-winning and best-selling author Karen Rose Smith will see her 86th novel published in 2015. Although she has written romance novels for over twenty years, she has now branched into mysteries as well as women's fiction. Writing for Kensington Books, Harlequin and indie publishing her Search For Love series, she still saves time for her four rescue cats, gardening, cooking and photography. She has also developed many of her books into audiobooks! She looks forward to contact from her readers through her websites and loves to chat on Facebook (KarenRoseSmithBooks) and Twitter @karenrosesmith. DEADLY DÉCOR, book two of her Caprice De Luca home-staging mystery series, is available now.  Book three, GILT BY ASSOCIATION, will be released in February 2015.


©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ten Reasons Why Readers Like a Series by Karen Rose Smith

I've been writing books with continuing characters in small towns for years now because my readers seem to like them best. Here are the reasons why.

1.  The characters become friends from book to book.  Readers become attached to them and look forward to what happens to them in each book.

2.  More is revealed about friends and relatives of the main character in each book.

3.  The life arc of the main character expands and changes in each novel, keeping her or him interesting.

4.  Settings and businesses in the town become familiar, like the feeling of going home.

5.  Reader have the chance to see different seasons of the same setting.

6.  The continuity of a series provides satisfaction and fulfillment.

7.  Knowing there will be another good book by a favorite author without searching high and low for the next one.

8.  Back story continues through all the books affecting what happens next.

9.  Secondary characters have a chance at their own story.

10.  A series allows the characters to live on in readers' minds much longer.


©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

Books and Childhood Memories Book Giveaway by Karen Rose Smith

What is your favorite childhood reading memory?

I was an only child and often spent time around adults more than kids.  I went to a Catholic school and no one else in my neighborhood did.  I had friends from my neighborhood and we were in and out of each other's houses throughout the summer.  But during the winter and school year, friends seemed out of reach until I was old enough to take a bus or a bike to meet school friends who were becoming my day to day allies and confidantes.

Since my mom was an elementary school teacher, books were a big part of our household.  Most weeks when we went to the grocery store, she would buy me a "Golden" book.  So I had a library early on.  What I remember most is settling in the corner of the sofa and devouring books over and over.  Once I started reading chapter books, I was hooked for life.

If I had to name the book that made the biggest impression, it would be ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.  Anne fascinated me as did the series.  I wanted to know what would happen next.  With that book, I learned about adapting to a new home, kindred spirit friendship and creating bonds to last a lifetime.

What book made the biggest impression on you?  Share in the comments below and earn a chance to win a print copy of the first romance in my SEARCH FOR LOVE series, NATHAN'S VOW.  Only readers over 18 in the US/Canada will be eligible.  Giveaway closes on July 25 at midnight EST.  IMPORTANT--Please leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. Good luck and happy reading!

Search For Love Boxed Set One

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 
Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Halo--A Mama Cat In Waiting, Part 2 by Karen Rose Smith

Halo is a pregnant stray cat who took a nap in our yard on Mother's Day.  That's the first time we spotted her.  She was scruffy, very thin and looked as if she'd been on her own for a while.  We began feeding her and it took her a few weeks to learn we meant her no harm.  By mid June she'd begun living in the sunroom off of our basement.  And...

I suspected she was pregnant.

I wanted to be able to handle her before we took her to the vet.  By the third week in June, she let us pet her and constantly wound about our legs.  We knew she had digestive problems and we took her to the vet for that issue as well as a flea treatment.  We found out for sure that Halo was indeed pregnant!

A week later with digestive issues still surrounding her, we took her to an emergency clinic, worried she was dehydrated.  She wasn't but an x-ray showed she'd probably had problems (irritable bowel or colitis) for a while which was why she wasn't gaining weight.  The vet prescribed an antibiotic/wormer safe for pregnant cats and a special food--Purina EN.  We were supposed to transition her off of that onto kitten food and a probiotic.  But five days later, nothing had changed, so I tried something else.  I poached chicken--no fat--cooked rice and ground that up with the broth.  After a few days, I added a teaspoon of canned pumpkin to every dish, feeding her every two hours except overnight.  We added a sprinkle of the probiotic once a day.

Two weeks later, she is doping much better.  We're adding kitten food to the chicken and rice.  She is living in my office, away from our other three rescued cats because she can't have her rabies or distemper vaccinations until after the kittens are weaned.  My husband and I change clothes to care for and spend time with her and wash up thoroughly.  She seems relaxed.  Furniture was strange to her and she's just learning she can jump onto the sofa and sit with us or leap onto the cat condo to look out the window.

We don't know exactly when Halo is due to deliver, so we're on kitty watch.  She does spend a little time in the nest I made for her in a storage bin in my closet.  I lined it with newspaper, then an old sheet and a receiving blanket with our scents.

I never expected to be a cat midwife!  It's scary and a little nerve-wracking.  I'll be back with more news when I have it.

©2014 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, July 14, 2014

Seven Reasons Why Writing A Mystery Is Fun! by Karen Rose Smith

Why writing a mystery is fun!

Reason 1:  I can put together a puzzle and have the enjoyment of solving it too!

Reason 2: Quirky characters are as real in a mystery as they are in life.  Drawing on life experiences or making up traits as I go is an author's delight.

Reason 3: I can include a touch of romance.  My sleuth can have romantic interests that are fun, dangerous, worthwhile and I can continue their saga through more than one book.

Reason 4:  Developing a town and a whole world for my characters is essential in a cozy mystery.  By the end of each book, I know the business owners as well as the main characters in my small town of Kismet, Pennsylvania.  So just as in a small town, I look forward to visiting them again.

Reason 5:  Plotlines can be challenging and keep me on my toes.  Research takes a whole new dimension in a mystery and I learn every detail again about the subjects I'm using.  In the first book STAGED TO DEATH, my murder victim's sword collection was an important aspect in the novel.  Examining Ebay offerings for possible items to use wasn't work.

Reason 6:  Unlike in reality, solving a murder is actually possible in a mystery.  It's satisfying to make sure the villains see justice done.

Reason 7:  I can include animals as well as people!  I love cats and dogs and horses and anything furry.  Although up until now I've only included cats and dogs, I expect horses will appear sometime.  We can learn so much from these furry beings.  Utmost is their devotion when we treat them with kindness.

Caprice De Luca in my home staging mysteries will have 6 books, maybe more.  STAGED TO DEATH and DEADLY DECOR are available now. The third book in the series GILT BY ASSOCIATION will be released in February 2014.  In addition to my Caprice mysteries, I will be writing a Daisy Swanson Tea Garden series.  I hope you will join me along the journey and enjoy all of them.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer Gardens by Karen Rose Smith

We're in the zenith of the summer gardens in Pennsylvania.  In January and February, I imagine this time of year and what our gardens will look like.  Always lots of color.  This year I planted pinks, yellows and purples with a splash of orange thrown in.  We have stray cats who migrate into our gardens, (in fact we just took in one who is pregnant--that's another blog!) so I try to plant cat friendly flowers and greenery.  Lilies are the most toxic to cats and we had a lot of those.  We are in the process of removing them.  But in the meantime, I planted snapdragons, herbs, roses, zinnias and phlox which aren't toxic to felines.  The above garden is designed with lemon grass, roses and snapdragons.

These phlox are at their height right now and attract hummingbirds.

In March I begin planting heirloom tomato seeds in our basement under a grow light on a heat pad.  Those tomatoes should be producing within the next two weeks.  Then I can freeze them for winter as well as enjoying them in the summer.  Zucchini have been coming in for the past week and I'm creating new recipes.  I'm grateful we can pick vegetables in the garden without toxic pesticides and enjoy them for supper!

We can't forget the birds!  They love the sunflowers once they go to seed.  This one came up on its own from last summer but I have other varieties planted that are budding now.  They're a little behind the self grown ones.

Petunias do well in the Pennsylvania heat and provide a selection of colors to choose from.

Bee Balm also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. But when it takes off, it can take over.  Each year, we dig some out and plant it elsewhere.   Decorative stepping stone help me reach roses and other flowers to cut for vases inside.  I like bringing the scents of summer into the house.

More photos in August when the zinnias will be in full bloom and planters will overflow with marigolds and  petunias.

©2014 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, July 6, 2014

A New Cozy Mystery Series from Karen Rose Smith

I have exciting news to share with my readers!  I'm writing the Caprice De Luca home staging mystery series for Kensington Books.  This year, I was given a vote of confidence with a contract for three more.  So Caprice will definitely have a six book series.  But...   I received the wonderful news last week that I have been contracted for a brand new cozy mystery series--DAISY SWANSON'S TEA GARDEN mystery series.  Yes, the books will have a tea garden setting and I'll be serving lots of tea!

I'll unfold more details in the upcoming year, but these novels will be set in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in a fictional small town.  I'll be able to incorporate everything I like best about the Susquehanna Valley, the beautiful country around Lancaster, and the unique crafts in the area.

I love Caprice and will be involved in her books because she's so much like me!  But I already love Daisy, too.  She has a wonderful Aunt Iris who runs the tea garden with her.  She also has two daughters and they have two cats.  (No surprise there!)

Stay tuned for more details.  I chat with my readers on Facebook, Twitter and in my newsletter so you can always know what I'm working on.

Have a wonderful rest of the summer.


Copyright 2014 Karen Rose Smith

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Picnics And Why I Use Them in Novels by Karen Rose Smith

When I write a series either in mystery or romance, I usually have a yearly cycle. One book takes place in the spring and/or summer. I always look for different ways for my characters to connect. But some traditional plot points usually work and I use them! One of those is a picnic. I employ picnics for many reasons. First, my characters are enjoying the outdoors and I can insert colorful descriptions.  In my mystery series set in Pennsylvania, it's fun to describe native plants and the flowers that grow in my own gardens. When I use a picnic for a scene setting, I can describe the uniqueness of that particular setting, the kind of flowers that bloom, the shrubbery native to the area, trees that are popular in that part of the country. We have a hummingbird garden, and these beautiful creatures visit us all summer.  Describing them is a joy.

 Now to the important part of the picnic—the feelings between the characters. If I show a family picnic, the reader can find out all about relationships between brothers and sisters and parents and friends. If it's a quiet picnic for two, anything can happen--from a tender kiss to a full-blown love scene in a secluded glen. The picnic sets up an automatically romantic setting. (BTW, ants and other creatures don't usually invade my picnics in romances though they might in mysteries!)

In real life, too, picnics are important. Right now, I'm planning a picnic for next weekend. We're gathering with neighbors and family. It will be a sharing time with lots of laughter and conversations. We're planning the usual hot dogs and burgers and turkey grillers along with my homemade baked beans, carrot salad, chips, chocolate cake, and my sleuth Caprice's choco chip cookies. (Recipe is on my mystery website. Caprice's Choco Chunks And Chips Cookies)  These are the times I remember when the snow is falling and we're separated from loved ones throughout the year. We take lots of pictures and when the gathering is over, we are looking forward to Labor Day weekend when we'll do it again.

Picnics will always be a part of some of my books because they bring out universal emotions and satisfy a need to be outdoors...with the folks we like and love most.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Taking in a Stray Pregnant Cat--Halo Is Her Name, Part 1

We are cat lovers, that's true. We have 3 inside rescued cats.  Ebbie and London are thirteen and Zoie is two. We never expected to have another cat when Zoie cried from a redbud bush in our yard. The temperature was hot and humid and she was only 1 1/2 pounds, dehydrated and hungry.  She also appeared on my parents anniversary.  It was love at first sight.

This year on Mother's Day, we found Halo sitting in our shrubs in our back yard.  She looked unkept, like she needed a kind hand.  At first, she ran when we tried to approach her.  But eventually she came to the patio, looking for us.  We began feeding her.  We would just sit quietly nearby and not try to approach her.  After about a month of that, she began rubbing against our legs and we could pet her.

I suspected she was pregnant because I spotted other male cats, not bothering her, but almost being protective of her.  We left open the door to our basement sunroom and she started living in there.  Soon she was staying day and night without wandering at all.  She almost seemed hesitant to leave the patio area.  I didn't want to take her to the vet until we could handle her.  At that point, we saw our veterinarian and yes, she was pregnant.  She also has digestive issues that might have plagued her for a while.  Thankfully she tested negative for FIV and feline leukemia.  She can not have any other vaccinations--rabies and distemper--until her kittens are weaned.

We're expecting kittens in about a month.  We can't send them to new homes until they are weaned at about eight weeks.

Taking in a stray cat isn't easy.  We spent a few hours at the emergency animal hospital about an hour away last weekend.  Halo needs ongoing care.  She's living in my office right now and the other three cats wonder why they can't come in.  At times, Zoie is quite vocal about it.

Through all of this, Halo has been an absolute sweetie.  In the upcoming weeks,  I'll post progress blogs for my cat lover readers.

And about her name...  Last summer we cared for a tomcat named Lance who had been injured.  He had FIV.  He was a yellow tabby who brought us love and affection.  We were preparing to have him live in the basement for the winter when he got an infection he couldn't fight off.  I don't have a proper photo yet, but Halo has a two inch stretch at the end of her tail that is pure yellow tabby.  Maybe angel Lance sent her our way.  "Halo" just seemed to be a fitting name.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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

Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website