Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Friday, November 30, 2012

Nathan Shepherd Will Return

I am honored to host Urban Fantasy author, Paul Anthony Shortt, on the final day of his blog tour. His debut novel Locked Within came out this month to rave reviews. He had a launch party at Hughes & Hughes near his home in Ireland that brings a lump to my throat whenever I read about it or see photos posted. You can go here to read the full story. 

Welcome, Paul!

My Photo
This is the final post of my Locked Within Blog Tour. As such, I felt it was appropriate to save it for the host who was responsible for providing the opportunity for me to get my book deal with WiDo.

In early 2011, Karen hosted a contest for people to submit samples of their manuscript. The winner would be able to choose either a full professional critique or a contract to have the book published. I knew what prize I wanted before I’d even sent the e-mail.

Karen was one of the first to follow my blog and my journey to publication. She has been my supporter for two and a half years now and I’m proud to call her my friend.

I’ve always been a series writer. I’ve never felt I could adequately tell a story in a single novel. Perhaps it’s an insecurity, or perhaps I just love the idea of keeping my readers guessing between books. In any case, as a reader I love the anticipation as I wait for the next installment in a series to be released. And as a writer i love closing on one book, knowing that the story will continue in the next.

Locked Within was always going to be the first of a series. I’ve been hard at work on the sequel and I’m looking forward to starting my edits. I think part of the reason I love a series so much more than a standalone comes from being a child.

When I was very young, and to this day, one of my favourite movies was The Last Unicorn. When the movie got to the end the first time I watched it, I was so sad. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to know if Lir and the Unicorn could be together. I wanted to know what happened to Schmendrick and Molly. I wanted more. So I put the tape back in the player (this is back in the days of VHS, folks), and I watched it again. I watched it so much I literally wore the tape out and it broke. I just couldn’t bear the thought that I had to let those characters go. They were mine, and this is something I firmly believe; the moment a reader opens your book, those characters aren’t yours anymore. In the mind of the reader, they belong to them. These characters were my friends. They were a part of who I was. A part of who I am today. I wanted their lives to continue.

So perhaps that’s why I can’t stand the idea of Nathan walking off into the final page of Locked Within without something to be walking towards. I want him to take up his sword again and fight the good fight. There’s still evil in his town, and he has a lot of work to do.

So, to everyone who has followed me on this tour, on my blog, on Facebook or or Twitter. To everyone who has bought Locked Within, or will buy it in the future. To everyone who has left a review or rating on Amazon or Goodreads. To everyone who stepped into the small world I’ve created and came out wanting more. To you all I say thank you. You’re the reason I’ve always wanted to do this. And you’re the reason I get to keep doing it. So keep your eyes on my blog. Because I promise you, this story isn’t over.

Nathan Shepherd will return.


Free right now on the Kindle! Go here to download. Last day is November 30.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I’ve been invited by Helena Halme, author of The Englishman (which I just started on the Kindle and LOVE) to take the Next Big Thing questionnaire, where authors talk about what they’re publishing next. Thank you, Helena! Questions and answers follow:
 
What is the title of your next book?
"The House of Diamonds Cookbook: Hearty Meals for the Frugal Family"

Where did the idea for the book come from?

From my life. My husband and I had ten children, eight of them boys, so talk about your big appetites! I had to learn how to cook well on a budget, and I wanted to share my ideas and recipes in a cookbook. Since all of my books deal a lot with food, (Lighting Candles in the Snow even has recipes at the end of each chapter), I felt like writing a cookbook would be a natural step. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by WiDo in 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I am currently testing all the recipes and linking them together in meal planning so that is taking me awhile.

Who or What inspired you to write the book?
I talked about the idea to my two daughters-in-law, both married just a short time, and they were really excited about it. That surprised me because it's not like they had large families to feed. I figured if newly married women like the idea, then it should be applicable to anyone with a desire to eat well on a budget.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The recipes will be for complete meals, with suggestions for what to have for main dish, salad, dessert, etc, and each element included. I'll also include tips on how to cook for a crowd without breaking the bank.
 
And that's it! I hope you enjoyed reading about My Next Big Thing. I will now pass the task of answering these same questions to another writer. Next week in the spotlight will be mystery author, Clarissa Draper!
 

I look forward to reading about Clarissa's next thrilling mystery!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is me, exhausted after cooking for a large family gathering
My husband and I are in Houston for Thanksgiving, visiting family. My dream for many years has been to go someplace else for Thanksgiving Day and not have to worry about the meal at all, and this year that dream is coming true!

I'll see you next week, and meanwhile, the lovely Marcy Hatch at Maine Words has interviewed me on her blog. Please stop by and say hello!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How It Feels to be the Editor

I can't decide which is more exciting-- seeing my own book for the first time or one that I edited. With my own it's like I'm the mom, with the other it's like I'm the grandmother.

I get all the joy and thrill but the writer is the one who has to do the marketing-- the never-ending promotional efforts that are necessary if the new release is to survive and thrive in the marketplace.

So in that case, being the editor is pretty dang exciting and, once the book is out, stress-free! I recently received my copy of Iced Romance by Whitney Boyd (WiDo Publishing, 2012), and it is just the prettiest thing ever.


 The cover's all shiny and smooth, the book is nice and solid, not a small book, and feels good in my hands. As editor, I've been through these pages many times but I still want to lie down under the covers and curl up with this jewel to begin Chapter One.

Want to know what it's about?

Kennedy Carter has the perfect life. It includes an engagement to an NHL celebrity all-star, a Vera Wang wedding dress, and more money than she could ever spend. But when Kennedy learns that her fiance Todd is cheating on her, she decides to leave the glamour and glitz behind.
She escapes to Orlando, Florida with a plan to rebuild her life while staying hidden from a country obsessed with celebrity scandals. The real world however, is tougher than she expected. Suddenly Kennedy has to deal with cockroaches, creepy alarm salesmen, and waiting tables… along with David, a gorgeous new love interest.

But what happens when the past refuses to stay hidden? When the truth of her background catches up to her, Kennedy must finally decide who she is, what she wants and where she really belongs.

Whitney Boyd is the first author at WiDo to get two books out in the same year. Wow, Whitney! Congratulations! Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It came out in February of this year. And I was fortunate to be her editor for both!

Whitney blogs here on topics like fashion, lifestyle, the celebrity scene, romance and other stuff that she also likes to write novels about.

Wishing Whitney all the best with her new release!



Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Writer as Entertainer

A most effective method to get attention for your work (and sales for your published books) is to establish an online presence. The modern art form called by the unfortunate name of blog is well-suited for this purpose.

But, because it's so deceptively easy, writers need to be on guard!

A writer's blog should never be boring, because there's a good chance if the blog posts are dull, the book will be too. Or at least people will think so.

Scary thought, isn't it? A little too much pressure?

The writer blogs for a variety of reasons--to connect with others in the business, or reach the book's demographic, or to establish a platform and online presence. Or maybe just for fun.

Whatever reason, it's a career move for the writer whether he realizes it or not. A writer--a storyteller-- is an entertainer. So one who blogs had better be entertaining, interesting, thoughtful, wise, informative, or some combination of fascinating.

And please choose your words with care. Because people are watching. Or reading. You hope.

A writer can be many things online but never dull. Better to be absent than dull. Take plenty of time to think about your posts, to edit them as you would a published work before you click that much too easy publish button.

Your career may depend on it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Every Kick is a Boost


Our guest post today is by Barbara DeLeo, and I love her topic. Anyone who's been kicked by life needs to read this!

Colour photo 4 Barbara DeLeo’s first book, co-written with her best friend, was a story about beauty queens in space. She was eleven, and the sole, handwritten copy was lost years ago, much to everyone’s relief. It’s some small miracle that she kept the faith and is now living her dream of writing sparkling contemporary romance with unforgettable characters.

After completing degrees in Psychology and English then travelling the world, Barbara married her winemaker hero and had two sets of twins. She still loves telling stories about finding love in all the wrong places, with not a beauty queen or spaceship in sight.

Hi Karen and thanks so much for having me at Coming Down the Mountain today. You have some great posts for writers. I’m still such a baby author, though. My debut book Contract for Marriage has only been out a month, but my “overnight success” at getting published took seven looooong years.

 I’ve blogged lately about some of the reasons why I think it took me so long to get published. One of my posts at Romance University, in particular, garnered a lot of interest, but today I wanted to talk about something that I think HELPED me finally get published.

I don’t know how many of you have taken courses by Margie Lawson (if you haven’t, you should!) but at the beginning of her sessions, Margie asks people to pull a couple of quotes from a basket that she passes around. She says to choose the quotes which “speak to you”.

When I took one of Margie’s courses a couple of years ago the two quotes I pulled out were “Every kick’s a boost” and “Even if you stay on the same track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” After the course, I took those two quotes home, taped them above my computer and they had more resonance for me than I could have imagined.

EVERY KICK’S A BOOST  reminded me daily that as writer’s we need to build a thick skin. But it’s OUR thick skin. Being kicked might not be something we signed up for when we imagined ourselves typing bestsellers while our readers clamored at the door for more of our literary brilliance. But it happens and it can lead to wonderful things. If I hadn’t had the “kicks”: the rejections after several revisions from different editors, the “it’s not working” from valued CPs, the “when are you going to write a “real” book” from  certain friends, I wouldn’t have developed such a clear sense of the direction I wanted to go in, the direction that would make a story a Barbara DeLeo story and no one else’s.

EVEN IF YOU STAY ON THE SAME TRACK, YOU’LL GET RUN OVER IF YOU JUST SIT THERE made me realize that I was the person who was going to make this dream happen, no one else. I needed to keep informed about the industry, look for new opportunities, and take risks to get where I wanted to go.

I looked at each of those quotes every day and they gave me a sense of determination, that grit that so many multi-published authors seem to speak of. And maybe they helped just a little, in the realization of my dream.

I’d love to hear of any affirmations or words of wisdom that you’ve picked up on your journey. I have an e-copy of Contract for Marriage to give away to one commenter!

Buy from Barnes and Noble or Amazon or Kobo

You can find Barbara at:



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Vote for Nathan Shepherd

Today we in the United States elect our president. Have you voted yet?

It is also release day for my Irish friend, Paul Anthony Shortt, with his urban fantasy novel LOCKED WITHIN (WiDo Publishing). Is this cover not fabulously compelling??? And manly??? Awesome cover, awesome book, amazing and talented author!


The supernatural realm and the mundane world have existed side by side since the dawn of time. Predators walk the streets, hidden by our own ignorance. Once, the city of New York was protected, but that was another age.

Now a creature emerges from the city's past to kill again, with no one to hear the screams of its victims. The lost and the weak, crushed under the heels of the city's supernatural masters, have given up hope.

But one man finds himself drawn to these deaths. Plagued by dreams of past lives, his obsession may cost him friends, loved ones, even his life. To stop this monster, he must unlock the strength he once had. He must remember the warrior he was, to become the hero he was born to be.

His name is Nathan Shepherd, and he remembers.

To buy:

Pre-release special on WiDo website.

From Amazon, in print or ebook. (Also available at Amazon.UK and others)

Barnes and Noble

CeleryTree

The Book Depository (free shipping!) 

Wishing Paul the best of everything as he launches his debut novel!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Maybe not a smart move but I go with my heart

I finally made the big move with not a little anxiety. After utilizing Blogger for the past four years as my author blog, (where I have over 1000 followers and 4000 views a month), I'll now blog on my website, karenjonesgowen.com, (where I have 29 followers and about 100 views a month).

Probably not a smart move. But I have my reasons---

1. Scattered online presence. Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, website– all the places I connect with people take time, and I need to focus, be less scattered, write more books.

2. I want to write in more depth about my interests in family, food, relationships, how people deal with issues of time and money. I’ll post once a month and give it some thought. On Blogger, the trend is to post a lot, comment a lot and attract followers. I’m over that.

3. Most of my followers here are writers interested in issues related to book publishing. I’ll still post as an editor, thus keeping Karen the writer separate from Karen the editor. Again, less scattered, more focused. Plan on one or two posts a month. Not sure if this is enough to keep an audience but we'll see.

4. I’ve always wanted to write a book of essays on family life. Why not try them out first as blog posts on my website?

5. Following and commenting on Blogger blogs is getting increasingly difficult. 90% of the time when I click on my Reader it says I follow no blogs. Or they simply don't appear. Add to that other issues like captcha and Google + profiles instead of Blogger profiles, and it's just not worth it to me to fight the system with what limited time I have to connect with my online friends.

Catch me on Twitter @KarenGowen. Or stop by the website. I'd love to add your blog link to my sidebar so we can stay in touch. And I've re-opened From the Shadows to the Page, my quiet blog, where I'll post occasionally because it amuses me.

No, it may not be a smart move but I go with my heart and right now, this is where it’s leading me.  *fingers crossed* Wish me luck!

Have you ever made a big change that scared you?