Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hellish Haven by L.K. Below--a Dystopian Multicultural Romance

HELLISH HAVEN: A Dystopian Multicultural Romance
by L.K. Below

Two lives. Two realities. But only one truth.

The Senator reigns all-powerful in a manifested picture-perfect world. No worries. No wars. Only the unspoken threat of oblivion if you step a toe out of line. On the other side of the divide, the rebels face a debilitating war against an invulnerable robotic army. Every day is a struggle to earn back their freedoms. Freedom to feel. Freedom of speech. Freedom of thought.

Sergeant Grant Baker is pivotal to the war effort. But ever since his wife’s abduction, he’s been walking around in as much of a daze as the Senator’s brainwashed citizens. Then Eva reappears—without memories of him or their son. And he’s willing to do anything to keep her. Even if it means jeopardizing the war.

Eva doesn’t know which side to believe. Her predictable life as a single nurse, or the man claiming to be her husband. All she knows is she needs to discover how to end the war, quickly. If she doesn’t choose sides soon, she may lose the man—and the life—she never knew she wanted.

INTERVIEW with L.K. Below

When did you first begin writing?

The first time I can recall putting pen to paper to craft a story was in the third grade, for a school project. Needless to say, I loved it, and from that moment forth started keeping notebooks with stories and worlds of my own.

What was the first story you ever wrote? Did it teach you anything relevant to your writing today?

The first story I wrote, for that school project in third grade, was about a pet dinosaur named Kooky who I lost and later found in my sock drawer. At that time, my friend had challenged me to write the most pages, a challenge which I lost. But I also continued the story past the natural stopping point. If I had ended the story upon finding Kooky the first time, I would have had a full-fledged short story with a beginning, middle, climax, and ending. Instead, I forced more story out and the story ended up being worse than it could have been if I wasn’t simply trying to write pages.

It was an important lesson for me. Not every story will be as complex as a full-length book. I write a lot of novellas now, not only because I love reading them (they’re easy to fit into my busy schedule) but because I don’t force a story past its natural stopping point, no matter what the length happens to be.

What was your favorite book as a child?

As I child, I loved many books. When I was ten years old, I used to sit under a tree at recess and read Tamora Pierce books. To this day, she is one of my favorite authors. When I was younger, my dad and I used to read to each other before bed; we devoured the Chronicles of Narnia that way. We also read a few adult fantasy books about dragons.

Which author did you read growing up who inspired you to become a writer?

There is a magic in books that I’ve loved ever since I learned to read. Tamora Pierce wrote some excellent fantasy books that I’ve read and re-read so many times, they’re now dog-eared. If I had to point to one author in particular who opened my imagination to other worlds and stories, it would be her.

Why do you think reading is important, especially while young?

Reading shapes who you are as a person. I believe this strongly. By reading, you open yourself to other possibilities. It’s important not only to read widely, but to read books about people whose situations are different from your own. One of the books that stuck with me strongly is John Peel’s The Secret of Dragonhome. I loved this book because the main character was a vegetarian, like me. Unlike the negative attention I was getting for making that choice at fourteen, the book presented it as a perfectly rational lifestyle for the heroine to live. The book, largely about a war between countries and the fear of people who were different, promoted the message that we are all the same at heart. When the main character crosses the border into enemy territory, she doesn’t find differences, she doesn’t find monsters. She finds a people who are the same as she is. This book shaped my outlook about inclusivity and guided me into becoming the person I am.

Who was the biggest influence on your writing?

While I was in high school, around the time I started writing seriously, I had several wonderful people who encouraged me to write. My parents were one, though my mom didn’t like fantasy and my dad didn’t like romance. My English teacher, who founded a writing club in the school with me, also contributed to my love of books and of writing. Last but certainly not least, my best friend from high school was a bookworm just like me and read everything I wrote, though she herself never wrote a book past its prologue. I remember once writing a book and handing it to the boy I liked to read, who also loved books. Support systems are essential, and I had ample encouragement and motivation to continue in those days, which was vital to spurring me on to this path.

What advice do you have to those who have kids interested in writing?

Read, read, and read some more. Find people who also like reading, and get feedback. Write the books that you would love to read. Find a writing club, if you can. Don’t do it alone, and don’t give up.

Why did you decide to become a published author?

In high school, the only thing I could think about doing was writing. I had books in me and they had to come out. I’m also a practical person, and upon graduating high school, when I didn’t have the money up front to go back to school, I opted not to put myself in debt. While I worked, saving money, I also wrote. I read books, and got positive responses to my own work. I decided I wanted more people to read it. I want to keep writing, and my dream job was to be able to do only that, writing. So I took the plunge, and here I am.

How do you celebrate the completion of a book or a sale to a publisher?

Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. Maybe a little wine, too.

What is the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in your career?

My biggest obstacle was a lack of support at home. My late husband didn’t approve -- and went out of his way to actively discourage my writing. For the two years prior to his death, I wrote in secret for fear he would find out, and didn’t end up writing much at all.

What inspired you to write romance?

My best friend from high school was a bookworm like me. Only, instead of the fantasy I read (which she still liked occasionally), she was a romance junkie. She slipped me a Sherrilyn Kenyon book to show me how my love of fantasy could translate to her love of romance. I loved the book, and from that moment forward, started to get my own ideas. I wrote romance, she and my mom read it, and I haven’t looked back since.

What was the first romance book you ever wrote? Was it published?

The first romance I ever wrote was a paranormal romance about a demon who falls in love with a ballet dancer. It was not published, or ever sent out on submission…to be honest, I find the concept a little bit corny. But I am still proud to have written it. That’s how you learn.

How old were you when you read your first romance book?

I was fifteen or sixteen when my best friend slipped me a Sherrilyn Kenyon book. From that moment, I had to read all the rest of the Dark Hunter series. Can you blame me?

What is your writing process?

I am in no way a plotter. I’ve tried it, but I prefer to write the first draft of a book as though I’m reading it for the first time. Once the book is all the way down on the page, I use it to form an outline and discover if there are any holes I need to fill in, or unnecessary scenes that need to be taken out. Then come revisions, revisions, revisions, some feedback from my cherished critique partner, and more revisions before I send it to my editor.

How long does it take you to finish a book?

I like to finish the first draft of a book in a month. Sometimes I write faster, sometimes books need time to sit and ferment. Editing takes me another month, if not more, before the book is ready to be seen by someone aside from myself.

How do you find the time to write?

I don’t find time. I make the time. Days can get incredibly busy, especially if working a day job. I take a few moments for myself in the morning before my day begins, in order to write. On days I have “off,” I usually devote to writing as well.

What is the hardest part of writing?

The hardest part of writing, I consider to be maintaining the discipline to finish a book. I have so many new ideas bouncing through my head at any given time that I’m always tempted to stop what I’m doing and start something new. It’s partly why I try to write so fast, so I won’t set aside a project until I reach “The End”.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is a funny thing. I commonly get ideas while sleeping or doing yoga, something that quiets the mind and lets me think. I also get ideas from things I see in real life, or even by reading over old stories. The book I’m currently working on started out as a half-finished book from 2010…until I decided it would work much better this way. Now it has new characters, a new setting, and a new plot line…so it really isn’t anything like the old version at all.

Do you write from experience?

I write wherever the characters take me. Sometimes that is from a place I’ve experienced. Sometimes I need to research to know exactly what would happen. That’s the beauty of books: anything can happen. 

Do you have any advice for a budding author?

Writing for publication takes persistence. You have to keep going when things don’t seem to be going your way, whether the rejection letters are piling up or you have poor sales numbers or you read a bad review. You have to keep going because otherwise, you fail. This game is all about persistence and sticking with it.

What’s next for you?

One thing you’ll notice if you read my books is that I like to write in a wide range of subgenres. I follow where the characters lead. I recently finished a historical romance with a spunky protagonist and I’m working on a romantic suspense at the time of writing this. The best way to know what I have next on the radar is to check my website,, or follow me on Twitter @LBelowtheauthor.

Karen Rose Smith's Christmas #Romance #Sale on #Kindle

I love this time of year.  Some memories are bittersweet but somehow each year, we make happy new ones.  I have much to be thankful, friends and our new stray cat Halo who has become an inside cat with her kitten Paddington.  Together with Zoie and London, also rescues, they'll definitely make Christmas more fun--especially with wrapping presents.

To share this special time with readers, I'm having a sale of my romances that are set around Christmas.  Christmas plays an important role in all three--from forgiveness.

I hope you enjoy them.


Love is just a jingle bell away when a sexy toy store owner and a pretty job counselor travel the rocky road to love.

Can a marriage of convenience become a true marriage?  Jake and Sara find the meaning of Christmas in forgiveness.

 A doctor and a Wyoming cowgirl fall in love around the holidays.  Lucy's gift to Zack -- the real meaning of Christmas.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

                           Karen's Facebook Author Page


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Five Reasons Why I Set My Mysteries in South Central Pennyslvania by Karen Rose Smith

Why I'm using South Central Pennsylvania settings for my mysteries:

1.  I was born and bred in York County. As a child, I had access to a relative's farm as if it were a second home. On weekends or summer nights, entertainment was taking a drive along the Susquehanna River or through rural small towns, stopping at fruit and produce stands as we did.  I rode my bike on the streets of York, learned to drive in mall parking lots and attended Catholic church.

I had neighborhood friends, school friends, and family in the city's neighborhoods. My roots are in the Susquehanna Valley so I can write about it, not only with detail, but with feeling.

2.  It's a beautiful area with scenery that can bring peace, relaxation, excitement and meanderings. Pennsylvania has a diverse landscape from rolling hills to groves of maples to mountains and pines. South Central PA, where the Caprice De Luca mysteries are set, has dipping valleys, magnificent farmland as well as cities with hustle, bustle and history. It's diverse enough to work for many books.

3.  Pennsylvania has a change of seasons. Weather can play a big part in plot. I like to use changing seasons from snow and ice to new spring beginnings when describing scenery.

The seasons can add to the impact of holidays, too.

4.  South Central PA is near major metropolitan areas.  Philadelphia, Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Washington D.C., Baltimore and even New York are within driving distance of my small towns of Kismet in my Caprice De Luca series and Willow Creek in my Daisy Swanson Tea Garden series.

5.  South Central PA is rich in history. Gettysburg is an hour's drive from Kismet. Willow Creek is situated in Lancaster County, rich in Amish heritage. I can tap into history for family backgrounds and intrigue.


South Central Pennyslvania fits my criteria for a setting in a series to provide diversity in population, scenery and weather. But most of all, it is my home and I hope that intimate knowledge of it will bring a familiarity to my storylines that readers want to read in each novel.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Halo's #Kitty Paddington at 4 months, Adopted with Mom at Our Home by Karen Rose Smith

Miss Paddington is four months old today. It's hard to believe that just 16 weeks ago she was born first when Halo delivered her kittens. Paddy has needed extra nurturing along the way and I bonded with her from the first day when she couldn't find her mom's nipple.

Halo's other two kittens, Tia and Mason, were picked first for adoption. But it wasn't long before my husband and I decided we would be keeping Paddy with Halo. She's unique from her beautiful face to her almost-kind demeanor. She met our two-year-old cat Zoie with friendship and paved the way for Halo and Zoie to get along. Paddy and our older cat London are still finding their way, but London doesn't see her as a threat and might get used to Paddy's quick darting here and there.

Paddy misses her siblings, so we try to play with her more and give her extra attention. She loves to play in brown packing paper, making it crinkle and hiding under its folds.  She still spends a lot of time with her mom, but I'm hoping as she gets older, she'll spend more time snuggling with us.

She loves peeking in the dishwasher, playing soccer with a fuzzy ball and running up and down the cat tree with Zoie. She is a joy to have around and I look forward to the years to come watching her grow.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Invitation to #CAT-CRAZY #BOOK LOVERS Facebook Page by Karen Rose Smith

Most of my friends love cats! I guess cat people just gravitate toward each other. In the writing world, the same is true. With a common interest in cats and their welfare, we just seem to find each other. Four of us have banded together to create something special--

a CAT-CRAZY BOOK LOVERS page on Facebook!  (Click on the link!)

Along with Deborah Blake, Susan Meier and Melissa McClone, I will be posting photos and chatting with readers on this Facebook page. (I post lots of cat photos on my personal profile and author page now, but this just means I have an excuse to shoot more pictures.)

We're planning themed days when readers can post photos of their cats too. Visit us on Monday for MONDAY MAYHEM. Do your cats get into trouble? Ours do. We can compare notes.

Wednesday is for WEDNESDAY WISDOM. We can share strategies for caring for our cats, solutions to problems, a place to give and get feedback,

Friday is always FELINE FRIDAY. Every cat is beautiful, and on Friday you can let yours be a star by posting his or her photo.

We'll also have a giveaway every week--books and cat-related prizes.

So if you love cats, like to chat with others who do too, can't get enough of cat photos and generally just want a friendly place to discuss your fur babies, the CAT-CRAZY BOOK LOVERS page is the place for you.  Just LIKE the page and join the fun! (Don't forget to check GET NOTIFICATIONS on Facebook so you don't miss a thing.)

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Kitten's Trip To His New Home: A Journal Entry via Karen Rose Smith

Below is a journal entry that Mason's new mom kept on his six-hour trip to his forever-home and his first night with his new feline family.

Quiet and alert, that is how I would describe Mason's first half hour. Nervous maybe, but not frightened. Then he started meowing. He meowed for the next two and a half hours off and on. When the sun would hit his face, he'd close his eyes and zone out, then a pothole or bump in the road would jolt him awake and he'd start meowing again. I gave him food. He ate, no problem. Not so much interested in water. He wanted OUT. I'd stick my hand in the carrier, he'd rub HARD against it. It was awkward turning around (from the front seat).

In the end, Mason would get quiet if I would just talk to him for a bit. Then another bump in the road and he was at it again. He did not like going fast at all. Once on the turnpike, I sat in the back seat. He liked that. I'd pet him a bit and talk to him and he'd settle down, but never sleep. Just doze. The last hour he started wailing. I shoved my hand into the carrier and he immediately curled up on top of my palm. I kept my palm in there, with him sleeping on it, for the last full hour of the trip. He may have slept then, as the car was dark and my hand kept him warm.

We got into the house and he was wide awake again, showing all kinds of curiosity and no fear. We put him in the master bedroom, where he could see everything going on in the kitchen and living room through the screen. All three cats checked him out through the screen.  No hissing at all. About an hour later , he sacked out on the bed. When we went to bed, though, he was wide awake and all over the place again. The screen was up, with us on one side and the other cats on the other. At bedtime each cat came to look in and see what was happening. Then, once the lights were out, our other male cat, George, broke through, and once he got inside, Mason tried to play with him and George was so terrified he hissed. Out he went, back to the living room.

Then, apparently I fell into a deep sleep. Because I woke up in the morning to find the screen door wide open, and my husband in the living room playing with Mason while the other three watched. No one has a problem with him being here, and he already has discovered everything there is to discover here. He's used the communal litter box, drinks from the water bowl, and eats kibble, although I still offer him his kibble on your schedule.

Breakfast was dicey because he's used to sharing plates and the others did not appreciate that. The two females both hissed and George abandoned his bowl.

I have no doubt Mason will be the dominant male. George is a scaredy cat.

Our one female is happy to simply watch Mason. She was the first to welcome him, to say hello and show curiosity. The other female is attempting to intimidate him and it's not working, LOL. He does respectfully scoot around her, but he's not afraid of her. Our male wants to play so badly but is afraid for some reason. Mason doesn't care. He'll spar a bit with him, then when the male runs off, go off by himself. He spent the morning entertaining himself--we have a cricket that chirps when you play with it--and then he went to sleep on the master bedroom bed. The screen is down and will stay down.

As for bonding with us, Mason is as affectionate as can be.

He doesn't seem to be lost, scared, confused or looking for anyone. He's got amazing confidence and seems to be learning the ropes real well. Other than a minor hiss here or there, that is all that has happened. (Who knew George could hiss??) My husband apparently didn't sleep a wink though, and so went back to bed when I woke up. He's still sleeping, and now Mason is sleeping with him. Apparently George got past the screen two more times last night before hubby gave up. And I didn't hear a thing!

Did I mention that my friends are devoted cat people????
Thank you for loving Mason so much already.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Halo's #Kitten--Mason, A New Adventure by Karen Rose Smith

This will be an exciting week for Mason.  He is on his way to his forever home.  As you can tell from his photographs, he's a lovable, handsome kitten.  He is Halo's second born.  We held him in our hand when he was born at 4.5 ounces.  Now he's 4 1/2 pounds of pure boyish charm, energy, and cuteness.  He's fifteen weeks old.

Halo has been a wonderful mother to her kittens.  She has been devoted and put her own needs aside to take care of them.  Mason's sister Tia went to her adoptive home two weeks ago.  Up until that time, Halo never hesitated to let all of them suckle and cuddle whenever they wanted.  After Tia left, Halo turned her attention to Paddington and Mason.  However within the past week, Halo washes Mason and cuddles with him, but she doesn't let him suckle as often.

There is a theory that kittens can be taken away from their mothers at 8 weeks.  But at 8 weeks, they haven't learned everything they need to learn from mom.  They haven't been nurtured to the extent that will see them through the rest of their lives.  Tia was ready at 13 weeks.  She has made a beautiful adjustment into a loving home with two other male cats.  She has become buddies with one of them and bonded with her adoptive parents.

Mason, at 15 weeks, is going to a home with a loving couple and three other cats, two female and one male who is 4 years old and still likes to play.  I have no doubt that Mason will engage and want to play with his new sisters and brother.  He didn't hesitate to make friends with our two year old female, Zoie, encouraging her to play when she hasn't done that for a long time.

Mason has spirit and sleepytime cuddles to give to his new family.

We love you, Mason.  You've been a joy.  We'll miss you.

Your first family

copyright 2014 Karen Rose Smith

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Twelve Dates Of #Christmas, a romance by Susan Meier

Are you ready for a warm, heartwarming holiday read?  I have one to suggest.  THE TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS by Susan Meier.  I'll admit Susan and I have been friends for years and have seen each other through the publishing world's challenges.  But she writes an emotional romance that I believe you'll enjoy.

Here's a glimpse.

The perfect business arrangement?

When entrepreneur Ricky Langley offers Eloise Vaughn the help she needs, in exchange for her attending twelve Christmas parties as his date, she can't refuse.  Yes, Ricky is handsome and devastatingly charming, but this is about business.  If only her racing heart would get the message!

Ricky has his own reasons for hating Christmas.  But with each date that passes, Eloise opens his eyes to the spirit of the season...and opens his heart to a totally different future.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halo's #kittens are teenagers at 14 weeks but still so cute! by Karen Rose Smith

Halo, Paddington and Mason have taken over our first floor.  We still have barriers in the foyer to kee them from running upstairs.  But they are with our two year old Zoie Joy all day now.  She's not always thrilled about that.  Mason can be a little scamp.  Zoie and Paddington get along well.  Halo and Zoie are still finding their way.  But one night all four of them napped on the bed with me while I watched TV.

Each day they expand their world more by climbing higher, finding something new to play with and exploring something they haven't before.  They are lightning fast and can streak into a closet before I can shut it.  If we need them to gather in one spot--like at night when we coax them into my office for overnight--all we have to do is shake the container with their crunchies.  We make sure they eat canned food before they receive their crunchy dessert or snack.  Paddington likes to play with a few pieces of dry food before she actually begins to eat them.

I still cook chicken everyday for Halo while we search for a cat food she can digest.  I've tried adding a few carrots or peas, but she's not enthusiastic about the vegetables.  She still receives some kitten food each day as well as a bit of dry food for sensitive digestive system.

Mason and Paddington still play with each other.  They sleep together too but now they might do that next to me.  Halo is sleeping much better and doesn't seem to be on guard as much.  She knows we're taking care of Mason and Paddington too.  The two days after Tia left for her adoptive home were difficult, but that was when we opened the rest of th house to Halo and the kittens to distract us all.  We've settled into a happy rhythm that is working.

Tia is settling into her new home.  She's bonding well with her new mom and dad.  She has met her two older feline brothers and is testing the waters and getting to know them.  I wish her a strong friendship with them and lots of love.

We're going to enjoy this last week with Mason.  He's often the fist to sit with me.  I love him dearly.  There is no way to socialize these precious babies without loving them and getting attached.

This has been an experience I'll never forget.  If you want to make memories and you love cats, adopt a kitten...or two!

©2014 Karen Rose Smith