Monday, December 13, 2010


Usually, I wouldn’t post what I’m about to write on my blog. I worry it might bring readers down, be of little interest to anyone because it’s not writing or book related, or just be too personal. But most of you reading this are writers. You probably understand that sometimes writing it down is therapeutic. So here we go…

Four years ago an American Bulldog sat shivering and sick in a kill shelter in Miami. He was red flagged. Scheduled to be put down at the end of the day because he was a large breed, abused (therefore fearful of humans), emaciated (starved), infested with engorged ticks and fleas, and covered in burns and scars. According to the shelter he was “hopeless.”

Hopeless is a matter of opinion. And opinions can be wrong.

I spoke up for him, and his release papers were signed less than 10 minutes before the shelter closed. Another 10 minutes and his story would have had a tragic and lonely end.

4 years later, most of his scars have healed. He’s no longer scared of people. He gets spoiled with the best quality foods, car rides, squeaky toys, yummy bones, and a sister (part lab/border collie) who gives him kisses every day. He’s the best snuggler in the world, and his tail hardly ever stops wagging.

Far from hopeless.

If I had written about him three weeks ago the paragraph above would have also included “healthy.” Unfortunately, I can’t say that now. The day before Thanksgiving, Rooney had a mass removed.

(Here he is after surgery. So cute. )

Six days later, the vet called and informed me it was cancerous. Over the sound of my heart shattering, I listened to his recommendation for chemotherapy: the pros, cons, risks, statistics, best and worst case scenarios. It left me terrified.

For almost a week I debated whether or not to put him through chemo. I was sure I couldn’t let them inject poison into my baby. Then I was sure I had to do everything I could to give him a fighting chance at beating cancer. Then I didn’t know what to do. I was scared, sad, and lost.

Tuesday we returned to the vet’s office to have his stitches taken out. Rooney was on the table, being forced to lay on his side by the vet and tech. He was confused, shaking, and thrashing around in fear. Then I held his head, pressed my nose against his, locked eyes with him, and promised it would be okay. (The same way I did the first day we met.) He instantly relaxed and held completely still while the doctor went to work.

It was two minutes at the most, but for two minutes we never took our eyes off each other. We were communicating volumes without saying a word. He trusts me. I’m the first person he’s ever trusted, and with that trust he counts on me to decide what’s best for him.

I can only hope that I make the right decisions.

Friday he had his first chemo session. He did great. We’ve been curled up on the couch together all weekend trying to recover; him from the physical damage, me from the stress and worry. Many times we locked eyes again and he’d wag his tail, rest his head on me, or give me kisses.

(Relaxing with his new toy.)

I know I made the right decision to rescue him. I don’t know if I’m making the right decision to do chemo. We’re taking each day as it comes. In the meantime, I’m giving thanks for each day I have with him, and I’m trying to stay positive. Because together, Rooney and I have learned…

where there is love, there is hope.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Going For A New Look

In case you didn't notice, my blog got a facelift. Pretty snazzy, huh?
See the new tabs up top separating my shenanigans into easy to read pages? I felt like the old layout was too busy and crowded, so voila! Welcome to my new look. Have a look around while I pour us some cocktails. I still have some things to move around and add, but I had to show it off because I love it so much.

Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. The awesome design was created by a good friend of mine, Ron Schirmacher. He's got wicked web designing skills, and he had the patience of a saint as I sent emails asking him to tweak, tuck, tear away, etc. Contact him if you want him to design you your very own. You can see his company site by clicking on his name, or email me and I'll hook you up with his contact info.

Friday, November 19, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Finally, my teddy bear has been returned (a little shaken up, but physically unharmed) so I can announce the winner of my signed copy of Paolo Bacigalupi's SHIP BREAKER. Well, not MY copy. I'm keeping my personalized one for myself and will never ever give it away. But the winner of the OTHER signed copy is...

Matthew Rush!!!One of the only guy's I've ever seen pull off the I-ooze-coolness-even-with-a-cig-hanging-outta-my-mouth look. He even left a really cool comment that would be a great plug for the book and I feel it's worth quoting:
Wow. What an amazing premise. Sounds dystopian, and fantastic and beautifully romantic all at once. Just the idea of a lovely old wooden ship suddenly showing up in this down trodden world of beached steel behemoths drew me in instantly.
So congratulations to Matthew! And also, special thanks to Ms. Honey Hostage--er, I mean, Carol Valdez Miller for plugging my contest and boosting my followers to over 600. And WELCOME to all the new friends who found me through Carol's blog. I'm sorry I didn't have 50 of these books to give away because I'd love to give everyone a copy. BUT, she is giving away SHIP BREAKER and some other great titles, so head over there and enter if you haven't already.

Thanks to everyone who commented and entered. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Good News and the Bad News

Bad news should always come first, so here it is: I'm a liar.
I'm not choosing a SHIP BREAKER winner today. I will choose the winner on Friday. It's a long, dark and twisty story involving bartering and blackmailing, but trust me; lives may or may not have been threatened so I made this decision for everyone's safety.

The good news: Carol is giving away a CRAP LOAD of books over at her blog. One being SHIP BREAKER. So now you have TWO chances to win SB or you could win some other great ones. And if you haven't entered my contest yet, now you can. Just click here.

I promise I will choose the winner on Friday. Please forgive me.

(Dear Ms. Honey Hostage, if you're reading this, please return my loved ones ASAP--preferably unharmed.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


One of the highlights of World Fantasy Convention was meeting
Paolo Bacigalupi and hearing him read an excerpt from

Paolo has won many awards such as the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and others, but SHIP BREAKER is his first YA novel and it's a 2010 National Book Award Finalist. The cool part: He's still humble, and super friendly.

SHIP BREAKER is dangerous. And dirty. (Not in the way you're thinking--get your mind out of the gutter.) As soon as I started reading, the story and characters sucked me in as powerfully as if I'd fallen into an ocean of oil. I live on the Gulf Coast, so it really hit home for me.

Here's the lowdown:
In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life. . . .

You can't have my copy. Ever.
But you can win your own signed copy.
To enter, simply be a follower of my blog and leave a comment.
Tweet about it (@Karen_Hooper
Link: ) sidebar mention it, post about it etc, and get 5 extra entries for each mention.

I will announce the winner Friday morning (Nov 19th).
It's open to all you international folks too!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

A VERY LONG (kinda like our nights) WFC POST

I survived my first World Fantasy Convention. I say first because after attending one, you will want to attend ALL future WFCs.

I've been to other conferences like RWA, SCBWI, and Pikes Peak (loved all of them) but WFC was um, er...different.

WFC had lots of great panels, but they were offered as an alternative place to go if/when the hotel bar or parties were lacking in conversation and/or people to meet and drink with. The problem: social opportunities were never lacking. Not even at 5am. (5am as in the end of the night, not the beginning of the day.)

You might be thinking, no way could I stay up that late.
I assure you, you can and you would.
Here's why:

Because you'd hate to miss famous authors throwing down drinks and chatting with you like you're an equal instead of a wannabe. You'd stay up because Tor and Del Ray were hosting parties, and you had a legitimate invite (aka no-crashing-necessary) to both. When 2am rolled around and your body begged you to sleep, you'd tell it to shut up and order another vodka & Redbull (or in my case a White Russian, but I was the minority) because it would be rude to turn down the editor and/or agent who invited you to the book release party.

In the morning ? (days kinda blur together) after 3 or 4 hours of sleep, you'd get coffee and drag yourself to a panel or two, or maybe an author reading because, after all, you paid to attend these things. You really should TRY to learn something.

Then, a friend peer pressures you into "checking out what's going on at the bar."
Your inner voice chides, No, be responsible and attend another panel.
But you're severely dehydrated so your lips and tongue are too dry to form actual words, so instead, you nod. And, as if on autopilot, your feet carry you to the bar where that really funny guy (you can't remember if he's of literary importance but you did officially become friends yesterday) walks up and hands you a White Russian.

At this point you can't decline because let's face it, the drink contains milk and everyone knows milk does a body good; and then, of course, there's that hair of the dog that bit ya wisdom, so you take a sip. Within minutes your mouth is moist enough to make conversation again and someone is handing you a second drink because yours is magically empty.

You almost say, no thanks, I should go back to the panels and learn something, but then three more people from yesterday (who you're almost certain are of literary importance but you can't confirm it because WFC name badges only state names and not titles) join you and start chatting about nothing book or writing related but you're all cracking up and "bonding" and you think, screw the panels. (You mean it in the nicest way.) The liquid courage has provided you the much-needed belief that you CAN indeed carry on a conversation with all these people of literary importance.

Before you realize what's happening there are more introductions, invites, elevator rides, parties, toothpicks holding your eyelids open, friends handing you drinks, cameras flashing in your face, and lots of laughing. You're pretty sure all the panels have ended but you can't be positive because you lost track of time, until someone suggests going clubbing and everyone is all for it until someone else points out that it's 1am in Columbus, Ohio and we'd have better luck finding periwinkle unicorns and sparkling butterflies in a Neil Gaiman novel.

Clubbing idea gets redacted, people continue mingling, and you keep meaning to say goodnight and go to bed but you're distracted by meeting more cool people until finally, someone asks, "Should we order pizza from that delivery joint? It's the only place open at 4am."

Crap. You did it again. Panels and author readings start in like 5 hours but you're rattling around the ice in your empty White Russian glass and thinking how horribly good pizza would taste, so you say yes, knowing the meal puts you at a 5am bedtime minimum.

Hours (not many) later--as much as you don't want to--you force yourself out of bed and go to the Urban Fantasy panel because since day 1 you've said you were going to attend it, and by gods, you will. But halfway through it the conversation turns to...wait for it...vampires. You moan into your coffee while catching eyes with Holly Black. You telepathically ask her why all UF panels end up being about vampires, and she grabs the mic and says, "I've been told all panels end up being about vampires and now I see it's true."

And you think, Cool. Me and Holly just had a telepathic connection. Which is impressive, but you still wish you would've stayed in bed because the conversation in the room now sounds like the adults in Charlie Brown. "Wah-wha-whu-whuh-whu-whah-vampires-whah-whu-wha-whu-wu."

Then--and maybe it's because you're in an Urban Fantasy panel--your bionic senses kick in and you hear (out the ballroom, down the hall, across the lobby, and into the bar) a bartender drop ice into a glass followed by the gug-gug-gug of a creamy White Russian being poured. You can't ignore your newly obtained superpowers (because you've read novels where the MC tries to deny an ability and it never bodes well) so you return to home base where, of course, sit a bunch of familiar faces raising their glasses and beginning the long road to 5am.

You join them, cheers to screwing the panels (meaning it in the nicest way), and enjoy your final hours with all your new-found friends of literary importance. You realize the most important thing you learned all weekend is that everyone at WFC--no matter where they are on their writing/publishing/editing/agenting journey--is important.

And you can't wait to see them again next year.

See, I told you you would do it.

5am will be here before you know it. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Today I'm flying to Columbus, Ohio for the World Fantasy Convention where I plan to frolic and rouse many a ruckus with Sara McClung, Carolina Valdez Miller, and Simon C. Larter.

Try not to be too jealous.

Updates and pics coming soon.

That is all.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I read this quote the other day and wanted to share it...
(Feel free to swap the word wife for husband, kids, parents, boyfriend, friends, or what have you.)

"What no wife of a writer understands is that a writer is working when he's staring out the window." ~Burton Rascoe
This quote couldn't be more true for me, especially when I'm riding in a car. My mind drifts to places non-writers wouldn't understand. I try to think of unique ways to describe the color of the sky, the swaying palm trees, or any of the other landscape my eyes sweep across. I pass houses, businesses, or people and create a skeleton plot and character summary based on any combination of random factors.

My mind never shuts up. It's always been like that. That's probably why writing makes me happy. My crazy mishmash of never-ending thoughts have somewhere to go. I don't feel so crazy if I can pluck some thoughts from the garden of my brain and turn them into an actual story.

A blank page (or Word doc) is my open window. Through that window anything is possible--and my imagination produces some spectacular views.

What about you? Are you a window gazer? Does your tale-weaving mind work overtime?

PS: Is anyone going to the World Fantasy Convention
in Ohio at the end of the month?
I'll be there with Sara McClung and Carolina Valdez Miller. And I recently found out the infamous Simon C. Larter will be there too. Needless to say, we're all getting a tad excited.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


This is not for you.

This is not for family, or friends, or writers.
These words are not advice, or wisdom, or to be critiqued in any way.
This is not proper punctuation, or grammar, or sentence structure.
This is expression, emotion, and raw reverie.

This is for an eighteen-year-old man,
driving too fast from a story he knows every side of.
Wishing tonight she’d finally choose love instead of lies.
With eyes like stars and a heart bigger than the moon,
who had no idea his midnight ride would be his last.

This is for a seventeen-year-old girl,
sitting beside a wrecked car on a dark winding road,
whispering I love you and promising it will all be okay.
With no idea she is holding a last chance in her arms,
who fourteen years later, is still waiting to say I’m sorry.

This is for a night that loops repeatedly through my mind.
With his mother’s tears forever falling upon the hospital floor,
while his big brother’s scream eternally echoes down a hallway.
Where foureen years later, a part of my soul still stands in that ER,
begging him not to go.

This is because it is October 14th.
Every year on this day, I yearn to bake a birthday cake, find the perfect gift,
and attach it to 888 balloons,
so it will float up to Heaven,
and show him that I haven’t forgotten.
That I will never forget.

This is for him. And for me. And for them.

This is for anyone who knows this feeling.
Who is haunted by a number, a date, a song,
or a place and time you can’t reach.
Who incorrectly assumed there would always be tomorrow.
For those who talk to the stars, and pray an angel is listening.

This is for everyone who has ever loved, or lost.
Who has experienced the beauty of this world, or the ugliness.
Who understands the meaning of tragedy,
but hopes to be spared from it--again.
For those who brave the path of healing,
even when it seems an impossible journey.

This is for anyone living their story.
To anyone who believes in happily ever after, or fears a nevermore.

We are countless characters, with infinite backstories,
creating never-ending plots in this book called life.
We are the sum of our parts, our people, and our experiences.
Moments hidden away in almost forgotten pages,
fluttering like angel wings as the chapters of our life rapidly flip by.

This is not for you, or for him, or for me.
This is for each and every soul who has ever felt sorry, guilty, lost, afraid, abandoned, insecure, unsure, self-doubting, self-loathing, self-sacrificing, misguided, misunderstood, unknown, unseen, unheard, unkind, loved, hated, hurt, confused, or alone.

We are all in this together.
We all have a him, her, them, me, or us.
We all live with a mistake, a regret, a burden, a broken promise, or a shattered heart.
We are all living this life one page at a time,
and we all have a story to share.
This is for the stars, the moon, and the angels.

This is for all of us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Last April while visiting my parents, my mother stumbled upon something in the paper that I'll never forget. Coincidentally, she told me about it while I was working on one of my manuscripts. You know, trying my damnedest to be a great writer. Good enough to be published. Hoping to one day make a career in storytelling.

The perfect time to read me this:

I don't remember what I said at this point--you'd have to ask my mother--but it probably wasn't very nice.

Abby's reply:

Abby is much kinder and more tactful than me. I grumbled something to my mom about how dearest NOT should thank her lucky stars, and how she was an ungrateful little--well, you get the point.

Abby is already a successful writer, so she offered helpful and professional advice. She didn't snap back with an emotional (or jealous) reply like I might have.

In some ways I can see this new author's point. Unauthentic events wouldn't be much fun. But the rest of it comes with the territory. Did this woman not know about the PR aspects before becoming a published author? A full inbox of questions about my book and a deluge of invitations is something I would expect and embrace. (Yes, even the bad emails and questions. I am aware that not everyone will love my writing, or even like it, or care that it exists.)

I'm not saying this woman's feelings aren't valid, but I do know about 500 people (see the Supporters bar on the right sidebar) who would love to have this lady's problem.

My Reply:
Dear NOT, Thoroughly research your destination before you climb aboard the cruise ship. And don't publicly bitch when the water gets rough, or the scenery isn't as pretty as the brochure made it out to be. Those of us still stuck on land will want to throw things at you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


***awesome cupcake pics used to be in this post but due to the recent lawsuits for using photos on blogs I took them down.***

I'm going to let you in on a secret that will change your life.

Last year, me and Natalie Bahm were querying at the same time. (Side note: Nat landed a fabulous agent, Sara Megibow of the Nelson Agency. As for me, umm, well, let's get back to the point of this post.)
We, and the rest of our writing group (Megan Rebekah and Marie Devers) decided rejection was an ugly word. It was no fun to email updates saying, "Agent SoAndSo rejected me."
There's something about those words that make you feel like you've just been slapped in the face, or punched in the gut. We didn't like it. So we did something about it.

We decided the new word for rejection was cupcake.
Instantly, our lives sounded sweeter. We sent emails that said things like...
Agent ShortBread cupacked me.
I got three cupcakes today.

Agent PermaFrosting cupcaked me, but she invited me to send her any of my future recipes.
It took months to bake, but I finally got a cupcake from You CAN'T Have Your Cake Or Eat It Too Lit Agency.

See, it doesn't sound so bad when you add some sugar, does it?

I even shared the Cupcake Secret with a few close writer friends. Sara McClung , Carolina Valdez-Miller , and Shannon Messenger have been in the elite Cupcake Clan for quite some time now. They speak my language. They know if I tell them I got a cupcake, it means I'll be needing some of this...Yes, they have a Cupcake brand of wine to help cupcake receivers cope. Coincidence? I think not. I even have an appropriately sized glass that I use if I get a cupcake on a full MS.Sara sends me cupcake themed gifts (I'm not sure if that's a good omen or not, but they sure are cute!)See, I told you this post involved my underwear. Thanks for the cute nickers, Sara!

It truly does sound good in theory--this whole cupcakes craziness. BUT(T), even with the cute underwear, the delicious wine, the sugary sweet wording, and all the other upsides of the cupcake way of life, the literary world cupcakes don't taste very good. Most days they are still hard to stomach. The worst part is, I've started looking at cupcakes much differently than I used to.

Some days I think this is the only good use for them.
They never look this cute or interesting in my email box.
On days when I'm really emotional, cupcakes seem mean and destructive. Kinda like this one.
I see stuff like this,
and think, umm, that's an oxymoron if I've ever heard one.

Sometimes I raise my fists in the air and shout, NO MORE CUPCAKES!

(At least until I recover from my sugar crash).

So, now you know. We are sharing our secret with you because we think this new terminology would make the writing world a happier place. We give you permission to remove the words rejection, and rejected from your writer vocabulary and replace it with cupcake and cupcaked (if you so choose).

Some days it will help the road to being published seem a little sweeter, but there will be days when it feels like you've been smacked in the face with a stale, 5 tier, schnozberry filled cupcake. The icing will burn your eyes and clog up your nose so that you can't breathe in or out, and you'll think, "This is it. This is how it ends. I've been cupcaked to death."

Fear not. Cupcakes will not be the death of you.

Take a moment to wear each one proudly. You worked hard for them! You've earned every cupcake! However bitter or bland it may be, try to enjoy whatever yummy part you can salvage, then ask a writer friend to hand you a few napkins. After you wipe away all that unwanted icing, put on your Brave Girl (or Guy) cupcake panties, celebrate your step in the right direction with a bottle of Cupcake wine, and keep persevering.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


A writer's journey isn't easy. That's no secret.
I'm no exception to the rule. Here are some words of wisdom for those times when it seems really hard...

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” ~Henry Ford

My writer skies have been extremely windy lately. (I think I might even have 2nd degree windburn.) But I knew it would be a rough ride. I just have to buckle in and suck it up. I have to keep believing that one day, soon, my plane will take off.

Even after it does, it's inevitable that there will be turbulence. It's part of the journey. (I actually kind of enjoy turbulence--it's like being on a roller coaster in the sky.)

So until takeoff, I will try to appreciate the gusty breezes whipping against me. I'll keep pushing the hair from my face so I can try to enjoy the view of where I am (because it will look very different when I get where I'm going) and I'll ask the flight attendants to stop bring me cupcakes. (When did they start serving cupcakes on flights anyway? What happened to peanuts?)

*Those of you who are close with me will get the cupcake joke. To the rest of you, I'll explain in a future post.*

May your skies be perfect for whatever leg of the journey you are on. Oh, and remember that in case of a loss in cabin pressure to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others, note any and all emergency exits, and have a safe flight.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


They say to write what you love.
Good thing I love lots of stuff, because I want to write forever.
My first manuscript involves stars, eternal love, the desert, superpowers, astrology, and reincarnation.
My second includes merfolk, impossible love, the ocean, superpowers, sunsets, and mythology.(Pic my brother took while at Tokyo DisneySea last week.
Do you want to open the door as bad as I do? )

Do I really love merfolk? Damn skippy. Here's some proof.
(Apologies to those who saw these photos in one of my December posts.)

(Me and the fabulous Carolina Valdez-Miller when she came to visit me a couple months ago.)

(Me around age 22, trying to impersonate Ariel on a cruise.
No comments on the flame pants. Please and thank you.)

Yeah, I know, who didn't love The Little Mermaid? That proves nothing. Need more hardcore proof? Okay, here you go...
(Me at age 2, showing off my new SeaWees.)

Mmm, hmm. You can't fake passion at age two. That's authentic love for mermaids. Don't ever accuse me of not writing about something I love. You will find pieces of my heart and soul in every manuscript I write. That's why I do it. It's the only way of writing I know. I write because I love it. I write what I love--even the made up stuff.
I suggest all writers do the same.

Do you write what you love? What are some of your passions?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.
- Confucius

Right on, Confucius.
Lately, I haven't been reading enough.
Eh, let's be honest, I've barely been reading at all.
Like, two novels in one month. That's just pitiful.
Great writers read a lot--A LOT. Because of that theory, I worry any small level of greatness I might have achieved could be slowly slipping away.
"If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write."
~ Stephen King

I hear ya, Stevie.
I have a pile of unread books given to me from beloved friends like Sara McClung, Carolina Valdez-Miller, and Megan Rebekah. (Thanks girls!) It's not like I don't have plenty of accessible reading material. I have so many new novels I'm practically drowning in them. (Not a bad way to go if you ask me.)
"One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment." ~ Hart Crane
Amen, Hart.
So, I am pledging to do some serious reading in the next few weeks. All kinds of stuff: my beloved YA paranormals, some classics, a few contemporaries, maybe even a steamy romance or two. I will be a better writer because of it. Plus, I love to read, so why haven't I been doing it? No more excuses. Let the avalanche of story devouring begin.

What are you reading? What's your favorite story to reread? Have you been slacking like me, or have you been in devour mode?

Monday, August 30, 2010


In a previous post, I mentioned a new man in my life and some of you asked about him. I could ramble about how spectacular Prince Perfect is for endless pages, but instead, I'll share a book related story...

Last week was Mockingjay Day. It fell on a rainy Tuesday. Tuesdays I'm stuck in the office all day, so I couldn't rush out as soon as Borders opened and buy my copy. I had to wait until after work. A depressing thought considering that morning people were tweeting and emailing that they had their copy and had started reading.

But then, around 10am, the door to my office opened. Standing there in the doorway, against a backdrop of gray clouds and pouring rain, was Prince Perfect--holding a brand new copy of Mockingjay. I didn't think anything could look more gorgeous than the baby blue book I'd been waiting months for, but Prince P took my breath away. (He does that a lot.)

He said he didn't want the store to sell out while I was at work, and he didn't want me driving around in the rain to buy it. He also wrote a sweet personalized message on the jacket flap.
*insert dreamy sigh here*
What did this thoughtful gesture prove? That Prince P gets me. He listened when I said I was excited about Mockingjay Day. He supports my love of books (and writing). He goes out of his way to show he cares. Those are just a few of the many reasons I'm thankful he's in my life.

The book was was good, but I found myself forgetting whether I was team Gale or Peeta. Because now, I'm team Prince P all the way. I couldn't write a more perfect hero, and believe me, I've tried.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Day 2 of Jen's, Guess That Character Blogfest.
Thanks, Jen! This was so much fun.

Two more snippets from The Kindrily will give you a good idea of my character, River. Here they are:

I hadn’t noticed the black-haired guy from the parking lot—Jaguar Boy—was sitting beside me until he gave his introduction. He stood up and leaned against my desk before he spoke. I scooted back, trying to get some distance from his uncomfortable closeness, and my chair nearly toppled over. Luckily, Jaguar Boy had the full attention of the class.
“You all know me. I’m River Malone, lead singer of the Rebel Junkies—future professional rock star."

Now that I really looked at him, he did look like a rock star. His jet black hair blended into a subtle fauxhawk. He wore typical rocker clothes; dark jeans and a black t-shirt scribbled with random artwork. A leather band circled each of his wrists and tattoos peeked out from his sleeves and collar. He looked dangerous, but I assume rockers tried to give off that vibe.
When the bell rang announcing the end of class, River leaned over my desk. “Sorry, didn’t catch your name during your intro.”
He did have a nice voice, raspy but confident.
“Uh, Maryah.”
“Okay, Uh Maryah, I’m River.” His lips parted, revealing perfect straight teeth. “See ya.”
“Sure.” I nodded like a dimwit. Hot guys made me nervous.

And there you have it. Spoiled by an absent family member with presents, but lacks a loving presence in his life. Everything has been handed to him (including a brand new Jaguar) but he doesn't appreciate any of it and believes he's entitled to more. Cocky, total bad boy, with a troubled soul. The kind of guy every parents fears their daughter will fall for.

Several people guessed the dark hair, a few mentioned a bad boy, a couple even guessed the tattoos and wrist bands, but nobody guessed the fauxhawk.

Brenda came the closest as far as physically describing him. Roland nailed his personality.

Thanks for playing! I'm sorry if I didn't comment on everyone's entry, but I ran out of time last night. I will try to comment on all of the reveals.

Guess My Character Blogfest

The brilliant and creative
Jen at UNEDITED is hosting the fun and fabulous Guess That Character Blogfest.

I actually remembered to participate in this one. Yay me! (Jen, thanks for the reminder.)

Here we go...

The rules are:

August 19th
Post a snippet of the character you'd like to be identified. Try and make sure there are no descriptions of what they might look like. This blog fest is based purely on voice, action and personality.

August 20th
The Big Reveal!!!! You will post a picture of your character (or representing how you see your character) with a short description of his/her personality and who you thought was the closest person to being correct (if anyone was close).

MY SNIPPET (from The Kindrily):

My first day of school had been pretty lame until River Malone—Jaguar Boy—made a repeat appearance in my last period music class. I sat in the back row to avoid being seen, but River pulled a chair in front of my desk and straddled it so he was facing me. My pulse started pounding between my ears.

Our teacher hadn’t announced his name yet, but he didn’t look pleased. “Mr. Malone, eyes to the front of the room please.”

“In a sec!” River replied without taking his focus off of me. He lowered his voice and leaned so close that I could smell the mint he was sucking on. “Something about you left an imprint on my soul. You’ve been stuck in my head all day.”

I clicked my pen repeatedly as if the noise would make up for my stunned silence.

“Mr. Malone!” Our teacher yelled. The rest of the class turned to watch us.

“I said in a second.” River retorted calmly—the epitome of cool.

The teacher held up a pad of pink paper, shaking it in the air as he spoke. “Your second is up. Turn around right now or you will be taking a trip to the principal’s office.”

River rose out of his seat in one stealth move, then strutted towards the front of the room. He took the pad from the teacher's hand, tore off the top sheet, slammed it against the blackboard, and scribbled on it.

“I do love a good trip,” he said. “I’ll sign my own ticket.” He blew the flabbergasted teacher a kiss and some of the class laughed or clapped as he swaggered back down the aisle to my desk. He took my pen out of my hand, tucked it behind his ear, then winked at me. “I’m going to write a song about you.”

After the classroom door shut behind him, I looked up to see every person in the room staring at me. My plan to go unnoticed had failed beautifully.

So what do you think?
What does River look like?

Monday, August 9, 2010


For the past couple weeks, I've been flying high--figuratively and literally. (A few of you who know me personally understand that statement. For the rest of you, I know you're here for writing-related stuff, not updates on my personal life.) So...

Writers conferences inspire me. Those of you who have attended one (or more) know what I'm talking about. Meeting other writers, developing new friendships with like-minded people, learning from seminars, hearing success stories, the list goes on and on.

I can't say enough great things about RWA. I don't write genre romance (although, currently I could write one humdinger of a romantic memoir) but I learned SO MUCH about writing and the publishing business from the RWA conference. A few agents said this during conference and it's worth repeating: Even if you don't write romance, RWA is one of the best organizations out there for writers.

I couldn't agree more.
And plan on attending the national conference in NYC next year.
I assure you, they offer PLENTY of seminars that have nothing to do with romance.

Now that I'm home, I have lots to do. I met agents who are interested in not just my current MS, but the first one I wrote too. So, guess who has been an editing/revising fool? I attended workshops like Donald Maass's, THE FIRE IN FICTION, where I learned things I want to apply to my projects. As tempting as it is to send off my MSs right away, I know agents would rather wait until my stories are the best they can be. I'm not delusional. I am certain no agent is sitting at their computer, waiting on the edge of their seat for my manuscripts. It's better to take my time, make them stronger, and THEN send.

My creative mind has been jump-started, and the ideas wont stop coming. Revising 2 manuscripts while writing a new 3rd story is total mental chaos. (Not to mention a 4th real-life fairytale I've got going on.) For the record, mental chaos makes me extremely happy. I love when my mind is a whirlwind of characters, scenes, dialogue, etc. I welcome it, no matter how overwhelming it may be.

Moral of this blog post:
1.) Join RWA no matter what you write.
2.) Attend great writing conferences. They are priceless.
3.) Take time to revise and strengthen your MS before sending to agents. (Donald Maass gave this advice during his workshop, so follow it!)
4.) No matter how much I try to keep my personal life off this blog, some people/things make me so giddy that they sneak their way in there.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Many of you are busy and won't watch the entire video (I don't blame you), but be sure to watch for a few seconds around the 5 and a half minute mark. I got some great shots of Donald Maass, Scott Eagan, and Steven Axelrod--along with some other great well-knowns.

For those of you who haven't met me in real life, you are about to see what a true dork I am.

I now present: THE MEN OF RWA 2010

Thanks to everyone who posed, agreed to be interviewed, helped photograph and/or video, let me make an ass of myself, etc. This retardely awesome video wouldn't have been possible without you.

PS: Sorry about the crappy photo quality. I only had my cell phone.

Friday, July 30, 2010


something to ponder from Nora Roberts.

You might think it is much more difficult to be a writer today then it was 10, 20, 0r 30 years ago. Nora's reply to you is: BULLSHIT.

Nora gave a fantastic speech at our luncheon yesterday, but I'm crazy busy so here's the bottom line:

Eventually, you've got to jump in the pool. (Pool being the publishing world.) Don't stand around bitching about how deep it looks, or how high the diving board is, or how scared you are. Jump!

Once you're in the pool, don't bitch about how cold or warm it is, don't worry that you're going to sink, don't complain about how tired swimming makes you, don't be jealous of the people swimming faster or better than you. You are wasting way too much precious breath and energy. JUST SWIM.

Yes, the journey of an author is hard.
It's supposed to be hard.
The hard is what makes it special.
Taking on the hard is what makes us special.
Go to conferences, meet other writers, develop lasting friendships with people who "get it."
Ride the hard.
But remember, you don't have to ride it alone.

In 10, 20, or 30 years when a new writer comes up to you, respecting you as a published author, and telling you that it used to be so much easier when YOU were trying to get published, you too can smile at them and say, "Bullshit. I rode the hard. So can you."

Happy Writing! I'm off to seminars and--EEK--a pitch appointment. Wish me luck.
More to come soon!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Last night Megan and I headed over to Disney's Dolphin resort for the RWA Readers for Life literacy signing event. We walked into a ballroom filled with 500 authors and their books. They all had pens in hand, waiting to happily sign and chat with us wannabes.These kind of events make me REALLY want to win the lotto because I would've walked up and down each row meeting as many authors as I could. But you have to buy the book (duh) and I'm on a tight budget so I couldn't purchase anywhere near as many as I would have liked. I did buy two:
and...I know you will all be shocked, but, wait for it...
FORGIVE MY FINS by Tera Lynn Childs. (Mermaid Power!)
Tera and I even matched. (I'm pretty certain there was a great-mermaid-minds-dress-alike phenomenon going on.)

Meg snagged the very last copy of HIS AT NIGHT by Sherry Thomas right before she sold out!

We tried to get Ally Carter's newest book, but she had sold out too. (Did I mention we arrived late?) Ally did chat with us and apologized for not having books, and I have to say, she is adorable and charming in person.

All the ladies were so sweet and friendly. I get intimidated trying to talk to those who have "made it" as an author, so imagine how I felt walking into a ballroom of 500 of them! But it really was a lovely time and judging from the long lines at checkout, I think they raised some serious money for literacy. So yay!!!

Today Nora Roberts will be the keynote speaker at lunch, then I'll be attending seminars.
More to come. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


This is it. My RWA kick off day is here! Bags are packed, schedules are printed, and camera phone is ready. I'm leaving for Disney World in about an hour. (Takes me 45 minutes to drive there.) I know, I know, try not to be too jealous.

I am fully prepared to follow through with your requests. Updates, photos, and yes, even vlogs will be forthcoming.

Happy RWA Day!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I’ll be at the RWA conference in Orlando this week. I’m not trying to brag but...over 40 literary agents are attending, 50 plus editors will be there, more than 500 authors, 2,000 attendees--it’s BANANAS! The conference is sold out. Don’t try to show up and register on site. It ain’t happenin’.

So, a question for you lovely people who read my ramblings but aren’t attending: Do you want to live vicariously through me?

If so, what do you want from me?

Do you want posts and updates on the cool things I’ve learned?

Do you want embarrassing details of my pitch appointments?

Do you want live tweets from the conference floor?

Do you want pics?

I shudder to even ask this next one but…do you want vlogs?

Or would that stuff bore you senseless?

For anyone reading this who IS attending, make sure to tell me in the comments so we can meet live and in person. I’m warning you though, if my blog peeps demand pics of writers I’ve met, be prepared to pose and smile for the camera. ;)

Monday, July 19, 2010


"Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others." ~Buddha

This picture was taken of me years ago at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii. My temporary happy place. Back then, I believed I needed a magical setting to see magic in the world. When I sat atop that wall I had a view of everything and nothing. I didn't know what I was doing with my life. I felt lost, and didn't know where I was heading, but I knew how to escape.

Above that stone wall was a cerulean sky, where angels hid in fluffy clouds. If you listened hard enough--when your ears expanded beyond the crashing of waves below--you could hear the swishing of grass skirts as some cherubs played leapfrog over a rainbow, while others kept storms calm by serenading them with ukulele music.
The wall overlooked aquamarine waters where dolphins danced during every sunrise and sang at every sunset--while deep below the surface, mermaids and selkies applauded them.
In the not-so-far distance stood an emerald mountain where--when the sunlight hit just right--you could see the sparkle of fairy wings flitting among the palm tress.

I created endless stories as I sat on that wall, yet I had no idea I was a storyteller. I had written, but I didn't know I was a writer.

I thought it was the place that made me happy: the island breezes, the aloha spirit, the ebb and flow of the ocean. But it wasn't the place; it was the stillness and excitement, the wonder and beauty, the unpredictable details and infinite possibilities. The feeling of living my story, which consisted of imagining fantastical new ones.

No matter how congested and busy life gets, no matter how many wrong paths I wander down, no matter how many road blocks or dead-ends I encounter, I now know the way back. Back to Happy Island. I can't get there by car, boat, or airplane; all I need is my imagination (but a pen or laptop comes in handy too).

My happy place is writing. Creating stories where my characters can be the people I am not, or parts of who I am. Where I get to paint a picture of how I wish the world could be, or erase the ugliness I wish I'd never seen.

I have finally figured out my role in my own story called life. I am a storyteller. And whether or not a hero ever rides in on his white horse, no matter how drastically my character arc changes, however many plot holes I may stumble into, I know the secret of every book is to keep turning the page. Keep going. Keep believing. Happy is a feeling, it's not a place.

My happiness is writing, creating, storytelling.
As long as I can do that, I am living my happily ever after.

What about you? Have you found your happy place? Or are you still searching?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I'm cheating. I posted this last year, but I've been super busy and it still applies. Plus, just like me, some of you are currently riding the roller coaster of writer self-doubt. This might help. (Or at least inspire you to dance.)

THE HOKEY: aka Why I AM Cut Out To Be A Writer:

I had one heck of an imagination as a kid. Back then, my parents called it lying, and punished me for it…a lot. However, if I just put a disclaimer that “this is fiction” before my tall tales, it becomes a story instead of a lie. And nobody punishes me (except myself when I think it’s not good).

…are Olympic league status. If they’d make people watching an Olympic sport, I’d win a gold medal. Because of my PW skills, I notice stuff. Then I make that stuff part of my characters' personalities. I create stories from the stupid, quirky, and fascinating things people do.

…ain’t that bad. I’m no English professor, but I’m pretty sure I grasp the general concept and rules behind sentence structure. I could definitely improve my skills. There is always room for improvement. Or at least that’s what the cliché Gods tell me.

I could never be one of those aspiring authors that gets a rejection letter and writes the agent back telling them they’re missing out on the next Harry Potter. I would never be so stubborn as to think my MS is perfect and not take suggestions or critique on how to make it stronger. What’s that cliché Gods? Oh yes, it is worth repeating; there is always room for improvement. Which brings me to…

I know I’m no Stephen King. I know I haven’t written the next Twilight. I know that even if my book ever does get published, some people will hate it. BUT, some people might love it. And through all the hokey and pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

Now with all that being said,

THE POKEY: aka Why I AM NOT Cut Out To Be A Writer.

Do I really have anything to say that hasn’t been said 100 times before in every way possible? My imagination is good, but can it compete with the other millions of writers out there?

I hear and read the stories and struggles of all the writers around me. I've met people at conferences who have been writing for decades without ever being published. I’ve heard the horror stories. I’ve read the statistics. I’ve seen with my own eyes that it’s next to impossible.

…ain’t that good. My writing is nowhere near perfect. A friend told me “It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what editors are for!” But she’s wrong. The writing has to be phenomenal--especially in this market. Use too many adverbs, say “was” too much, misuse commas and colons and you’ve signed your own form rejection letter. Fact is, there’s just too much talent out there, and many aspiring writer’s DO have perfect manuscripts.

Fewer deals are being made. Agents are taking on fewer clients. Due to the recession more people than ever are trying to write a book and get it published. The odds of getting an agent are slim. The odds of getting published? I might as well take up a career in getting struck by lightening. I know my odds. They are against me.

There’s always been that voice inside of me that doubts myself. Me? Become a best selling author? Have a following of fans that wait on the edge of their seats for my next book to come out? Readers will line up to ask for my autograph? Yeah, right.

So, which is it? Hokey or Pokey?
Am I a writer or aren’t I?

Truth is; it’s not a question. It’s not a decision I made. It just sort of happened. I don’t have a say in the matter. My stories have been written. Another new one is churning through my mind, fighting to become black words on my white computer screen. So I have to keep writing. If for no one else, then for my characters. I can’t just leave their lives unfinished in a make believe world I created. How cruel would that be?

Some days there will be rejections, tears, and harsh criticism. Other days there will be a critique partner who says “This is a perfectly perfect paragraph,” or another reader tells me they loved Nathan more than Edward (True! I swear!) Those are the days that keep me writing. The moments when I stare at my crazy fantastical stories and smile.

Maybe my stories won’t ever get published, but maybe they will. Cliché Gods assure me that “Only time will tell.” Until then--however far THEN may be--I'll keep trying to be a better writer (self-doubts and all). Because what if, one day, an agent does love my story? And then a publisher loves my story. Maybe one day all of this work will result in a letter from a fan that says, “Thank you for writing this.”

THEN, all of this hokey pokey will turn itself around.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Barry Lyga Rocks Day!

The fabulous Sara, Carolina, and Alexandra are hosting Stalk Barry--er, I mean, Barry Lyga Rocks Day. Write him a letter and if yours is better than mine (dont bet on it) you'll win a badass Barry book.

Without further ado, my letter to Mr. Lyga...

My Dearest Barry,

I haven’t read any of your books.

Sorry about that, but I thought we should start our relationship with brutal honesty. I mean, you write about superheroes and comic bookish stuff. I figured you could handle brutal honesty.

I have done some level 2 stalking of you via your website. Don’t worry; level 2 is not an insult. It just means I’m emotionally stable and not the type of person to stalk anyone at a level higher than 3. (Level 10 is scary restraining order type stuff and the only person I could picture myself being that obsessed with is James Howlett (aka Logan), but since he’s a fictitious character I’m sticking to my guns on the emotionally stable proclamation.)


As you may have guessed I was intrigued by your novel WOLVERINE: WORST DAY EVER. However, Sara, Carolina, and Alexandra aren’t giving away that book in their Barry Rocks contest. (Sometimes I question their loyalty as X-Men fans but whatever. They’re beautiful girls inside and out so I let them get away with stuff like that.)

Andbutso, I started reading up on some of your other books. I am now determined to win one. I’d prefer to win all of them but I worry that if I read all of your books I’d become a diehard fan and start foaming at the mouth for more. Reviewers say your stuff is witty and snappy, serious and absorbing, authentic, fast-moving, and—well, you probably already know what they’ve said. If your stories are truly that great then I could easily cross into a level 6 or 7 zone. Add to the equation the fact that you’re pretty darn attractive and we’re bordering on level 8. Level 8 stalking might put a damper on our newfound relationship.

However, I’m dedicated to making this relationship work. When I’m dedicated to something I’m unstoppable. Like, superhero (or sultry villain) unstoppable.

For example, I’ve already contacted your old college roommate Alex and he agreed to create a mechanized bulletproof exoskeleton flight suit that will allow me to fly to your big city so I can demand any and all of your books whenever I want.

I don’t want it to come to that. I like you, Barry. Sara and Carolina have told me wonderful things about you. I’d rather not have to use my special suit and start demanding things of you.

Just give me a book as a prize and you and I can remain at a cordial and comfortable level 2.

Seriously, just award me a book. It’s the right (and safe) thing to do.

Oh, and Happy Barry Rocks Day!

With all my love,


(PS: I sprayed this letter with perfume and sealed it with a blood red lipstick kiss. Hope you can smell me and visualize my lips on your side of the computer screen.)


Disclaimer: No authors, their respected girlfriends, or their college roommates were actually threatened or harmed during the making of this letter. I just have way too much free time.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 50th Anniversary, Nelle!

To Kill A Mockingbird was published 50 years ago this month.
One of the classics.
The only book Nelle Harper Lee ever had published.
Nelle is now 84 years old.
What I wouldn't give to have one of my stories published--much less to celebrate it's 50th anniversary.

Southern Living magazine has a heartwarming article about Nelle and the anniversary celebration they're having in her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama. Go read it. You'll learn some great stuff--like how Nelle hates being famous--and you'll smile a few times.

My favorite part of the article was near the end. Pat Dye was talking to Nelle and paying her one of the highest compliments you could give an author. He told her she wasn't smart enough to write a book like To Kill A Mockingbird

I know, at first that doesn't sound like a compliment, but maybe you'll understand once you hear the rest...
"Ain't nobody smart enough to write a book like that. To write a book like that you gotta write it with your heart, your soul, your guts, your passion. You can't write a book like that with just your brain."
Something for us writers to think about next time we sit down at our computers. Heart, Soul, Guts, Passion= A classic recipe for greatness.

Happy Anniversary, Nelle. You are an inspiration.

This just in: The royal Courtney, aka Southern Princess, is also celebrating TKAM's anniversary on her blog. AND she's giving away awesome prizes. Be sure to stop over and enter.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

DECISIONS, DECISIONS--or lack thereof

"We can try to avoid making choices by doing nothing, but even that is a decision."

~Gary Collins
I started writing a new manuscript.
It's an adult story.
But I write YA, so I should stick to that.
No, apparently I write adult too.
Or do I?

It's easy for me to start an idea and watch the words pour onto my computer screen. The imaginary minion on my left shoulder kisses my cheek and tells me it's fabulous, keep writing!
The minion on my right shoulder slaps the side of my head and screams, "What do you think you're doing? This is garbage!"

So I send the first ten or so pages out to trusted writer friends and wait. They will be honest. They will tell me if I'm wasting my time.

Meanwhile, I open my first YA story and decide to tackle those revisions that I know will make the story stronger. And it works. And I smile. And it feels great. And I remember why I write.

Then the emails about the adult MS start hitting the inbox, and one writer (who I have the utmost, bow-down-because-I'm-in-the-presence-of-greatness respect for) says, "Karen, this is one of the best things you've written."

And I tear up. And I smile. And it feels great. And I remember why I write.

Then I realize I have to make a choice.

Do I revise the old YA manuscript? (I love the characters and story so much it hurts.)
Or do I work on the adult story? (Writing every sentence hurts because it's filled with so much love.)

Decisions, decisions.

I attempted to spend time on both, but it doesn't seem fair to either story. Plus, I worry that the voice from one story might carry over to the other by accident.

So instead, I've been procrastinating. Waiting for a sign. Waiting for the minions to whisper in my ear or smack me upside the head with a steadfast decision. YA or Adult.

I don't know. But I can't keep doing nothing. I have to decide. Because I miss smiling, and tearing up, and feeling great, and I like remembering why I love to write.

What about you? How do you choose between project ideas? Do you stick to one genre or do you branch out? Do you know that feeling I'm talking about when you've just created a new scene, character, or line that gives you "that feeling?"

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