Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Karen had a dream job working as a public relations specialist for a major cosmetics company. She wrote press releases about the latest makeup and skin creams and took home so many free samples she didn’t even have time to try them all. When layoffs were threatened at the company, Karen knew she’d never be able to find another job she liked so much, and asked herself the question, “If I could do anything, what would it be?”

The answer was write a novel.

Although Karen had been writing professionally for over fifteen years as a marketing, advertising, public relations and technical writer, novel writing was a new challenge.

Tired of waiting to be laid off, Karen left her full-time job to learn the craft of writing fiction. Her former employer hired her as a freelance writer, and as word spread that Karen was available, other former employers started calling, launching Karen’s freelance business. Karen’s work has been published in the Montreal Gazette, and her flexible freelance schedule allows her to reserve time for novel writing.

When she’s not reading or writing, Karen is learning or trying something new. Karen majored in chemistry and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Arts and Science from the University of Illinois. She’s an advanced open water scuba diver, a triathlete, a kayaker and she’s summited (fixed typo) Mount Kilimanjaro. She enjoys winter camping, and even attended an afternoon meeting of her Canadian RWA chapter last February after waking up that morning in a tent pitched in the snow.

Karen enjoys reading a variety of fiction genres and is currently working on a romantic suspense story.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

D.C. Action


My bag!

Look at it! I love the cover. I want to write a book with that scene in it just so I could have that cover on it.

Books, books and more books! I spent $110 at the literacy signing, and the rest were FREE! The publishers set up book signings for their authors, where they sign their books and give them to you for free. As you know, I LOVE meeting authors. Meeting so many of them was my version of Disneyland. : )

Speaking of the literacy signing, I was in line at Susan Elizabeth Phillips' table when a redhead in a walking cast cut me off. I thought I recognized that redhead, and sure enough, it was Janet Evanovich!

In JE's official talk, she made me cry when she described giving up, dragging her box of rejection letters to the curb and taking a normal job. She was out picking up her daughter from something when her husband and son showed up to tell her, "Your editor just called..."

All the keynote speakers were fantastic: Linda Howard (bless her heart) and Eloisa James "Art Garfunkel born into the Bach family"

TONS of great workshops. My favourites: Donald Maas explaining how to avoid creating a "MWOO HA HA" antagonist, Jenny Crusie explaining propping up the sagging middle with a clothesline analogy, and Robin Wells' Power of Significant Detail, complete with clips from Gone With the Wind, Office Space and It's a Wonderful Life.

I met the Smart Bitches AND got a signed copy of their book, Beyond Heaving Bosoms. I read it on the way home - hilarious, and filled with recommendations now on my TBR list.

Also met a bunch of people I formerly only knew on line from the Chick Lit loop and the From the Heart groups. Also got to spend some time with fellow Ottawa chapter-mates.

I stuck with my strategy of floating around solo instead of sticking with any one group, and the results proved that it's definitely the way to go. I met many people from across the US and Canada in various stages of their careers, each with an interesting story.

And, yes I did have a scheduled pitch and managed to do an impromptu pitch when a fellow writer introduced me to her agent. Both requested to see my work, so I have 2 submissions to polish. : )

As you can see, it was action-packed. In E's words, on the first night I sounded like I'd had 7 Red Bulls with an espresso chaser.

People were really dressed up, especially for the awards gala - see below.

No kitten sweatshirts!

I loved it - definitely worth every penny. : )

The only lowlight was non-RWA-related: at the airport something on me beeped and I got sent into the wave machine - a tube-like scary phone booth-ish contraption that looks like something out of Star Trek. grrrr. I had the exact same outfit on when I flew IN, why did it beep on the way OUT? After apparently seeing me NAKED grrr they decided I was NOT a security risk and I got to go. grrr grrr grrr
I'm beginning to really hate flying. Too bad I also hate driving. I need to find high-speed trains to take me to my destinations.

Apart from that, I am now trying to get caught up, unpacked and working on those submissions (that just means pulling together whatever the agent asked for: 2-pg synopsis, bio, 1st 10 pages, or whatever).

Next up: the reading pile!! Where to start? YA or ROM Suspense?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

En route to DC

Signed up for the BIG conference, described as 'exciting, motivating, and overwhelming.'

I can't wait. I'll get to meet a lot of people I know from online groups, learn from the pros in workshops, schmooze with agents, editors, and authors, and get piles of free books.

I am trying to control myself and not go berserk touring the DC area, even though it's tempting. Must have down time.

Looks like some cousin visits and even a zoo trip are coming together - nice!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Karen = revolutionary? Viva la revolution!

I seem to have knack for doing this... I jump into a new industry just as a revolution is taking place.

I did it with desktop publishing - I was one of the writers for [company's] first digitally produced (not typeset)catalog

Again with online help and then creating 1st generation websites - managing content and helping clients envision what their website could be - no, NOO - not a dumping ground for all your brochure text...

Here I am again: e-publishing.

I jumped into novel writing thinking strictly in terms of traditional print, with the only question being hardcover or paperback. Once again a revolution has broken out. E-publishing is here and no one knows what form it will ultimately take.

Am I somehow attracted to rapid change, or am I Forrest Gump, stumbling along and coincidentally getting caught up in these events?

Either way, I am thrilled to be here. Even better, I will be in the thick of things next week.

Kat of Quartet Press has summed up exactly my feelings about next week's RWA Conference (there's a whole big thing going on about RWA not embracing e-pubs, but I won't get into that here..)

In Kat's words:
"Mostly though, I’m thinking about RWA. I have attended plenty of conferences in my lifetime: [...] But RWA – this is the first time a conference has me feeling like I’m headed to my first school dance.

I’m excited, and nervous, and worrying way too much about what to wear. [KS note: I spent my lunch hour yesterday selecting the right shade of nail polish!]

I am looking forward to meeting all the authors, and publishers, and agents, and I can’t wait to attend some of the sessions. But, what really brought it all home to me was today’s announcement of the Rogue Digital Conference/ session. Taking place on Thursday, July 16 at 8:30 am in “The Harding Room,” this event is co-sponsored by Quartet Press, Books on Board, Red Sage Publishing, Samhain Publishing, and Smart Bitches.

This is cool stuff. There are a lot of wonderful people in romance publishing. People who are doing some very groundbreaking, collaborative and forward thinking things, and I get to hang out with them in DC next week."

: )

Who knew I was such a rabble-rouser? "Rogue" conference? I'm there. Can't wait!!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Living in the Land of No Excuses

Last night I got grumbly. My computer stopped working last week after several power outages, and my tech support guy (aka E) advised me to take the opportunity to upgrade with a new system and dedicated UPS, so upgrade I did. However, setting up the new system is taking a little while, and in the mean time, I've had no access to my NovelWriter software or my printers. boo hoo.

Jane Austen managed to pen a few classics without Microsoft. Why can't I whip out my quill pen and get on with it? I've been identifying plot holes and tightening the Action/Reaction scene objectives in my Marshall Plan, but not having a computer was becoming a handy excuse to not get a whole lot done.

After I whined about not making good progress because of my lack of computer last night, E slyly reset the alarm, got up freakishly early this morning and set up a laptop in my office with access to everything I need.

I swear, if I lost a leg and said I couldn't run he'd go build one for me and tell me to lace up my Reeboks.


So I have a computer. Now it's up to me to meet my productivity objectives.


What are you grumbling about, and putting off doing for some lame reason that could be fixed with a little E-like ingenuity? Do it.


E's tech support charge for all of this? one fresh batch of Nanaimo bars. I'm even going to make them with dark chocolate.