Sunday, November 13, 2016

When #Turmoil Affects Life and #Writing by Karen Rose Smith

Usually I can write through anything--surgery, family crisis, pain--I have fibromyalgia and arthritis--as well as day to day annoyances.  But grief is another matter.  Over half of this country is in a deep depression and feeling the effects of grief because everything they believe in--everything I believe in--is in danger.  But that's not what this post is about.  It's about how I can write, meet my deadlines and forge ahead in spite of the turmoil around me.  Because I have to.  Writing is my vocation and my job.

So I thought the strategies I use to lift my heart might help others.  I can lift my heart in these ways.

Ever since I was a young girl, music has made a difference in my life. Until I was five, my parents and I lived with my grandfather and my aunt. After that they lived next door. I come from an Italian heritage, and my grandfather was an immigrant. He played the mandolin beautifully. On weekends, friends would stop by with guitars and an accordion, and he and his friends made music. That music brought into the house fellowship, fun and a sense of well-being. Also in my grandfather's house was a player piano. We inserted what was called a "roll" and a melody magically played. My mother and I would sing along. She played the piano herself, and I would accompany her, too.

It was natural for me to learn to play the piano myself. Through the years, I learned to express emotion through the playing. I found joy and inspiration in the music. With this history, I never just listen to a song. I feel it. Today I listen for artists and music which can stir that deep creative part of me, whether it does that by bringing back memories, lifting me to a mountaintop, soothing pain and stress away, or urging me to write a particularly emotional scene. I listen to a variety--Josh Groban, Burning Sky, guitarist John Williams, Michael Buble, the Beatles, Brad Paisley. They all touch me, give me creative energy and lift me over the bumps.

Traveling to a place with power also renews me. I believe everyone can find places that fill them with peace and an overwhelming sense of well-being. When I was a child, I had access to a relative's farm. There was something about the fields of grass, the scent of orange blossoms and honeysuckle, the playfulness of kittens around the barn and the beauty of horses in the corral, that always washed over me in a particularly healing way. I loved just being there and soaking it in. As an adult, I feel drawn to places where I can feel a power greater than myself--the ocean, the cliff dwellings in the southwest, the Appalachian mountains, the big blue sky over Santa Fe, a memorial garden my husband and I created in memory of my parents in our own backyard. All of these places, as well as the memory of them, fill me up when I am empty and help me to keep going.

Since emotion and my creative energy are also integrally linked, the people I love and those who love me also inspire me. Talking to my son long-distance reminds me the bonds between a mother and child are never-ending.  When my BFF's daughter gives me a hug, I am inspired to look at the world through her eyes--in a more innocent, unspoiled way. My writing friends listen and help me get unstuck.  Just by talking to like minded women helps immensely.

Also my four cats, Halo, Paddington, London and Zoie Joy are constant companions who remind me to be playful. Their presence fills me with a sense of contentment and comfort.

Bonnie and Clyde, sibling strays we care for, remind me what freedom means.  They are thankful for the food and shelter we give them but then they go on their way.

Solace surrounds me in many forms. I just have to know how to listen, where to go and whom to turn to in order to find it. Somehow I always do and life and writing flow on.



Wendy Newcomb, director of the Kismet women's shelter Sunrise Tomorrow, is thrilled when the shelter receives a legacy.  Leona Wyatt has left the organization not only her huge Tudor mansion but a monetary inheritance to accompany it.  Wendy asks Caprice De Luca, home stager and decorator extraordinaire, to scope out the house and renovations.  She hires Caprice to decorate the mansion to serve women who need more than an overnight port in a storm. 

When Wendy is murdered in the mansion, Caprice is pulled into the investigation by the assistant director of Sunrise who wants a quick resolution to the investigation so new plans for the mansion aren't impeded.   In her drive against domestic violence, Wendy has made enemies. Not only the husbands of women she has sheltered or relocated but also co-workers as well as Leona Wyatt's children.  And what about Wendy's significant other who is instrumental in running the cooperative neighborhood where he, Wendy and his teenage boys live?  Caprice's life is about to change as she accepts a marriage proposal, helps her uncle adopt kittens, sees her sister Bella attach to a stray cat,  and learns whether Wendy was a blackmailer or the one being blackmailed.  Caprice finds herself in danger once more as she asks questions and even calls on St. Anthony for inspiration to solve this murder mystery.

Pre-order SHADES OF WRATH on Barnes and Noble


USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 97th novel will be released in 2017.
Karen and Paddy

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 

©2016 Karen Rose Smith


Lorraine Bartlett said...

Hi, Karen. I identify with music the way you do. (It drives my husband crazy when I single out an instrument and ask him to listen to it. He can't. It's all just one thing to him, not strands of melodies.) I, too, and feeling lost, wondering what the future will hold. Thanks for sharing this lovely post.

Jeanie Jackson said...

A wonderful reminder of something most of us know in a small way but now we need to grab on to all the things that give us hope. My furbabies, time with my sisters, looking at water all offer moments of peace and they are fairly close. Thank you again for the beautiful reminder.

Loved the ARC of Shades of Wrath and can't wait for my long pre-ordered Kindle copy to arrived.

Jeanie Whitmire Jackson.