Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tired of Waiting????

About five years ago, a fellow writer approached me, book in hand. "Read this," she said as she thrust it at me, her voice gruff, her demeanor no nonsense. "I hung onto it for you. You're gonna love it."

The book was Falling Home by Karen White, and the writer was right. I loved, loved, loved it. Karen's flair for lengthy story-telling was delightfully showcased in a book that had me falling in love with the characters, and then the author. I then discovered that Karen had entered the Barclay Sterling as a non-published author two years before, and the gals at LCRW were thrilled for her success, like a new mother watchin' the tottering footsteps of her first child.

Since then I've made sure that Karen's books garner space on my very particular bookshelves, and I'm blessed to have the honor to introduce her to you today. When you read her post, you'll have a clearer understanding of why we get along.


I hate waiting in line. I haven't always. In fact, I was raised in a big city and was sort of accustomed to having to wait in line for just about everything.
And then I grew up. Got married. Had kids. Started writing. Sold a few books. My life is a lot more complicated than it used to be, which means I have a lot less time (and patience) for waiting. My husband laughs because I'm the person who will drive three miles out of her way to avoid sitting in a line of traffic. Of course, he's not the one who's trying to get kids to opposite ends of town for various activities, make it home to put dinner in the oven, throw another load of laundry in the dryer AND meet a book deadline. He can laugh all he wants right after I shove this steering wheel down his throat.

But I digress. What does any of this have to do with the career of a published writer and contests? If you will bear with me, allow me to explain.

When I was younger (and stupider) I sat down one day at my computer and started to type my first novel. I didn't know anything about 'rules' or genres or even the names of any editors or publishing houses. I just wrote, thinking in my foolishly ignorant way that, 'if I write it, it will sell.' Oh, for cryin' out loud! Sure, that happens in the movies, but this is Real Life and it would take all the planets, the moon, the sun, and all the blades of grass in your lawn to be aligned correctly for that to happen.

Think about it. You write the book. Then you have to send it to an agent and/or an editor. That agent/editor probably gets about 500 of identically double-spaced-1-inch-margin-Times New Roman-fonted manuscripts per week. Since it's not an agented manuscript (well, duh, you're thinking--that sounds a bit Catch-22 and you're right--it is!) it gets shoved in the dreaded Slush Pile where they also throw all the submissions from the local prison and insane asylum. The odds of somebody actually rescuing your baby from that pile are somewhere between Michael Vick becoming a spokesperson for PETA and me winning the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Your manuscript is, essentially, in line, waiting to be noticed. Well, good luck with that.

“So”, you ask, your bright, shiny, nubile faces turned up to me like daisies in the sun, “What can we do to jump that line?”

“It's easy, Grasshopper,” I reply. “You go to conferences and meet with agents and/or editors so that you can put that stamp on your envelope that says REQUESTED MATERIAL that bumps your submission to the top of the pile on the editor's desk and is the equivalent of PASS GO AND COLLECT $200. But conferences can be expensive, plus you have to wear pantyhose and heels. Which is why I recommend a second way to head to the top of the agent/editor's desk: CONTESTS!

Next time you're thumbing through the RWR, check out the contests section with a highlighter in your hand and highlight all the contests that are being judged by an agent or editor of a house you want to be writing for. For about $20, you have the potential of having a portion of your manuscript read by a bona fide editor or agent. Sure, this is usually the final round, but you're good enough to beat the competition to that point, right? And if you can't answer that in the affirmative, then you need to be at your computer trying again after you’ve read this.

I know you're thinking that this sort of thing only happens in the movies. But it really did happen. To me. I submitted that first manuscript to a contest (the Marlene). The first round judges were authors (which is what I was really after since I figured they'd know better than most if I should keep my day job--assuming I had one) and was really surprised to find out that it had finaled, and that it and two other finalist manuscripts were being read by a top New York agent (who also happened to have once been Nora Roberts' editor).

Lo and behold, that manuscript won and was sold and ended up being a double RITA finalist. Yes, miracles can and do happen. Sometimes.

I'd like to say that everyone lived happily ever after, but then I'd be lying. My career since the publication of my first book in 2000 has been fraught with ups and downs and more scar tissue than the back of Joan Rivers' head.

But I'm in a good place now and I can honestly say that I don't know if I'd be here right now if it hadn't been for my naïve self saying, “Let's enter a contest.”

Sure, you can ignore my advice and do it the old fashioned way. You might actually enjoy waiting in line (I'm sure people like that must exist--how else to explain Disney World?). Then, when I see you in the nursing home and you get back that first rejection from a manuscript you mailed way back in 2008, I can laugh at you. And then you can laugh at me when my dentures fall out.



  1. Karen, welcome aboard! I feel like one of those teeny-boppers who should be on OMG.COM...

    Like, Oh My Gosh, it's Karen White!!!

    Except I know how delightfully wonderful and normal you are.



    Karen has friends whose only job is to keep her tiara polished and ready, right MISSY??????

    Yup. Missy is like Karen's 'lady-in-waiting' thingamajig and Missy dutifully polishes, shines and stores Karen's tiara collection for her.

    Of course most of them have turned green...

    They just don't make tiaras like they use to, you know???

    Anyway, welcome to my buddy Karen. Give her the business, ladies and gents. Pester her. Pick her brain. She's worked with several editors, she's a member of GRW, a wonderful RWA chapter, and she's just as snarky as I am, which is only one of the reasons why I love her.

    I've got a cappuccino bar all set up at the back of the room. When you get up to get coffee and/or desserts, do it quietly, please. Like all divas, Karen doesn't like to have her train of thought interrupted. So hard to refocus, don't ya know. You understand.

    Then the pecan pie tarts and the peach cobbler (I whipped the cream myself, just moments ago) are to the left of the coffee service.

    So sit back, relax and enjoy, but by all means, join in the fun of having a real tiara-wearing, writing princess among us.



  2. I enjoyed the blog today. i loved the comment about the nursing home and dentures falling out.

  3. Welcome to Seekerville, Karen! It's great to have you here. As I write this I'm gobbling a slice of luscious peach cobbler. Thanks, Ruthy.

    Karen, I'm blown away that you won the first contest you entered and sold from that! Wow, a double Rita finalist--every writer's dream!! But I hear you about the scars. No sale means the career can't be derailed with the next book. No guarantees in this business, but what fun would that be? :-)

    The thing you need to know about Disney is they now have the fast pass which bring you to the head of the line. A great idea of Mickey's because people can't buy food and drink standing in line.
    So contests are our fast passes. Not that I ever came close to Karen's amazing record. So Karen wear that tiara with pride. I'll polish it for you. And get one of your books. What's your latest release?


  4. Welcome, Karen, to Seekerville -- it's so good to have you here, albeit a little freaky (in a good way!) having another "Ruthy" around! :)

    And like Ruthy, I also fell in love with Falling Home and am blown away that it was your very FIRST novel!! Wow, that's a home run if I ever saw one!

  5. Karen, you compelled me into ignoring the dirty dishes in the sink and finishing those last tweaks my agent requested on my manuscript. The editor who requested the full kinda needs it on her desk if she's gonna read it, right?

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    I haven't read your book. Sounds like I'm a big loser for not. ;-)

  6. You're so funny. What a great post, and I'd have to agree with the contest thing. Not only do you have a chance (though maybe slim) of getting your chapter straight into an agent/editor's hand, but you also get unbiased, anonymous feedback. Contests are definitely the way to go.

  7. I am one of those who cannot afford travel expense to attend conferences, but I can ante up entry fees here and there. Now I feel better about the hours I have spent this month honing some contest entries. I didn't I could hope for anything but a little notoriety.
    You did add something to my toolbox when you said to check out the contest judges. I never gave that a thought. I will certainly pay more attention now.
    Thanks for some great information!

  8. And she still has a sense of humor. This is good to know.

    Welcome to Seekerville, Karen.

    I also thank you for the encouraging words. Today I was poring over the finances and considering yet another part time job to finance my contest habit.

    I needed the boost and I appreciate it.

  9. I haven't read falling home either,so I went online to order.

    Karen you will be thrilled to know copies are selling at B&N and Amazon for between $12.50 and $43.00.


  10. Very funny post! I love it.

    Okay, so you sold your VERY FIRST book, you won your VERY FIRST contest you ever entered, and you sold that book to that final round judge?

    I know I'm bad, but after the week I've had, I'd much rather hear about the scars. What about those, huh, Karen? Cause I can relate to them better.


  11. Karen, I will always suspect deep in my heart that my SECOND book I got published, Petticoat Ranch, was chosen in a panic. Not that it didn't work out for me, but I have this image of my editor...who is one of my favorite people on the planet...needing a book because one of her authors died. She's looking around frantically, sees a manuscript that she's been using under the leg of her desk to keep it from teetering, jerked it out and said, "Just publish this, we're desperate."

    So, I encourage all of you to write books of various thickness for obvious reasons.

    I enjoyed your post.

  12. Karen - Ruthy -
    You are two peas in a pod!! This was a fun and funny post! Again, another wise lesson in how to go about beginning to begin this process.

    I'm so very, very thankful to have found such a godly place to learn!

    Thanks Ruthy for introducing me to Karen!


  13. Girls, while Karen's in the ladies room straightening her tiara (fourth one she's tried on today, but who am I to judge????), let me invite you to listen to either a soft, symphonic Bach movement performed in it's seventy-minute entirety by the local high school orchestra, or the new Brad Paisley song, "I'm Still a Guy."

    For those of you non-country fans, let me just say that Brad is amazingly talented, wears a great hat, and this song is to-die-for funny.

    Choose here:

    High School Symphonic Orchestra

    Brad Paisley

    I'll tally the counts in a few minutes.



  14. Kim, you're welcome. She's a piece of work in the very best of ways, and if you go to my profile I mention her (Yowza, that's BIG, to get mentioned in a profile, don't ya know?), Deb Smith and Lisa Wingate. If you love romance and heroines who face the dragons and emerge victorious, these are great authors.

    Oh, crap, she's on tiara #5....

    Good heavens, woman, I liked number one best...

    It's too tight?

    You mean your head's too big?


    I see.

    The tiara shrunk.

    (Ruthy pans the crowd with a wise and somewhat skeptical look)

    Sure it did, sweet-beans. Mine do that, too. You just keep telling yourself that.


  15. Loved the post, Karen! I could hear your voice as I read it. :)

    It's great to have you with us! But you didn't mention that you only entered contests for the bling. Come on, admit it. Did you ever enter a contest that didn't offer jewelry as the prize?? (And wasn't it you who was envious of my Laurie pendant because they made them bigger the year I won?)


    Okay, I'll quit being mean and tell you all how much I've LOVED every one of Karen's books. And she has a new one out now--The Memory of Water!! It's in my TBR pile right now (nicely autographed, I might add, Ruthy. Are you jealous??).


  16. ACK!! This is a test--my last comment got booted by a google error so before I retype I'm trying to see if this one works...

  17. Thanks for the warm welcome, ladies! Sorry for the late start--I don't allow my self 'fun' computer time until I reach my morning quota. Urgh.

    So please, ladies--ask me any questions (except where my supply of tiaras comes from) and I will be happy to answer!

    Janet--in answer to your question, my last book THE MEMORY OF WATER came out last month (March) and is doing very well (whew!). My next book, THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET (set in Charleston and is my "Moonlighting Meets the Sixth Sense" book) will be out in November.

  18. Hi, Julie--

    Actually, FALLING HOME was my THIRD novel. My first (and double RITA finalist) was IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON. It was written in first person and was a time travel set during the American Civil War in Georgia--two of the biggest no-no's! Can you tell I don't ever listen when people tell me no???

  19. Hi, Gina!

    Yes, you are correct---you can't actually SELL a manuscript without SENDING IN the mansucript. Kinda weird that way, you know? :-)

    Like that NIKE ad tells us, JUST DO IT. This business isn't for the shrinking violets of the world, truly. Have faith, and JUST DO IT!

  20. Hi, Tina--

    Yes, despite everything, I've managed to hang on to my sense of humor--albeit somewhat WARPED sense of humor.

    My kids tell me I'm the only mom they know who carries with her a set of Bubba teeth and a remote control fart machine. :-)

  21. Yes, unfortunately, FALLING HOME is currently out of print (despite a huge demand for it). My publisher at the time (whose name I won't mention because of the animosity I feel towards them) did their best to sink that book. The rights revert to me next year and hopefully Penguin (my current publisher) will be interested in publishing it -- and will do a fantastic job of it. Unlike SOME publishers... Not that I'm bitter or anything...

  22. Hi, Melanie,

    OK--the scars.

    When I wrote for my Other Publisher, I felt like I was going to the prom. Sure, I was going to the prom with the ugly, ungainly guy with acne, but at least I was going to the PROM!

    And then the ugly guy dropped me. Making me feel ugly, untalented, and worthless because even the ugly awkward boy didn't want me. I cried for a year and came within a week of quitting writing completely.

    What saved me: a strong faith; a wonderful support system of writing friends (thanks Debby!) and family; and I kept writing.

    The book that I wrote during that dark time was the book I sold to Penguin--THE COLOR OF LIGHT. The book that my Other Publisher rejected, LEARNING TO BREATHE, is a 2008 RITA finalist in the novel with strong romantic elements category.

  23. I had to stop and catch my breath after reading your post, Karen, because I've been waiting for the stars and planets and grass to align just for me.
    My first novel was God inspired, written with my soul and blood practically on every page.
    I've been waiting for editors to beat down my door . . . and now, after twenty years. TWENTY LONG YEARS . . . you tell me it's not going to happen. I'm not sure what to think about that.


    But as for contests, I've not always had much luck there. Yes, I've won a game for one, and awards for others. I even placed in the Genesis contest, which garnered me an agent, but got me no further.

    Perhaps in all honesty I don't win too many contests because I play it too safe, or have a misconception of sorts. I always thought you didn't send the same story to different contests and such. What if the story wins at one contest, do you just pull it from the others?

    To another matter, Ruth, thank you very much for the invite... after having typed my post three times and have it disappear, I finally made it. But if my original post or some form of it just happens to show up you'll know why.
    It will have nothing to do with the fact that I love to read my posts over and over. SMILE

  24. Hi, Mary---

    LOL!!! Did one of her authors really die????

    But I know what you mean. My husband happened to be in New York when I got the call from my agent that Penguin had made a very nice offer for THE COLOR OF LIGHT in a two-book deal. I pictured my husband standing behind her with a gun held to her head...

    I guess I'd become difficult to live with--and when I'm stressed I shopped. I'd bought clothes, shoes, handbags, a car and a house. It was either get me a contract or he'd have to buy himself a publishing house and publish me just to save him money!

  25. Ruthy---SWAT---that's for the comment about my tiara shrinking. It really did! I left it in the pocket of my hoop skirt and threw it into the wash. Really. It happened. Just like I said it did...


  26. yes, Missy, the bling is VERY important to me as you know. A lady can never have enough BLING.
    Getting published was only secondary to acquiring bling in the early days.

    But one only has two ears, one neck, and ten toes--so I soon reached the realization that I needed to have another goal in mind when entering contests.

    Hence the Marlene I entered (although that had the double-bonus of awarding a Waterford crystal pendant, too).

  27. Tina---remember what I said earlier: this is no business for shrinking violets! You need to take chances, step outside of your confort zone and JUST DO IT!

    And, no, don't pull an entry from contests just because you finaled in another. How do you think I acquired so much bling????

    Generally, if you're finaling a lot AND getting a lot of 'Os' in your scores--that means you have a strong voice and people are either going to love it or hate it. It's the middle numbers you need to watch out for. Not too bad, not too good---just not memorable. Work on making your characters and your stories memorable--even if you have to step out of your comfort zone.

  28. Karen, wish I'd thought to shop away my misery. That could've driven my husband to hop a plane to New York. Naw, he's not into guns. If he were, he'd have used it on me. Where do you get those tiaras? I want one.


  29. You're rigt, Karen, I should put myself out there more. Sometimes though, all the contests leave me a wee bit confused. One likes this, one doesn't, one says keep that and lose the other.

    Actually, I've been told on ocassion my voice is too strong, too real, I should tone it down, and yes, I could sharpen up my writing, but as for the toning it down because it's too real, I'm not quite ready for that.

    How do you deal with that?

    Oh and Karen, your bling sounds much better than mine, cause I certainly can't wear a pictionary game on my head. I'll trade you for a Tiara.

  30. Karen, I see we went back to number one after all, once I velcroed the back open so that it didn't pinch your head.

    Oy vay.

    Tina, glad you made your way over! I re-hooked up with Tina Pinson yesterday when I sent a snarky, opinionated (I know, shocker) e-mail to Tina Russo....

    Oops. I shoulda just typed the name in and never right-clicked nothin'...

    At least it wasn't as snarky as SOME of the e-mails I've sent, so God was watching over me.

    And probably laughing.

    Karen, I'm confused. How did I miss the first book and why haven't I uncoverd that anyplace? I'm shopping for it now.

    And how come Missy gets autographed anything???? I know, I know, she dangled the whole poor-little-preacher's-wife thing, didn't she?

    Shameless hussy.

    Did you know she uses that to cut in line for the restroom at conferences?

    Cross my heart.


  31. Missy--shame on you!! Cutting in line at the restrooms at Conferences???? Well, I nevah!!

    I'll make a poster with her face on it and a red circle with a slash to post at all bathrooms when I'm in San Fran this summer...

    PS Ruthy, Missy has an autographed copy of my book for the same reason I have one of hers--we signed together at the same table last month at B&N! I had to BEG her for one of her, but she eventually relented (doing that "i'm a preacher's wife so I need to be nice to the little people') and let me have one.

    And, yes, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON is long out of print courtesy of my very first publisher, Dorchester. Never made a penny (except for the embarrassingly low advance) but I"m forever thankful to them for hoisting me up onto that bottom rung of the publishing ladder!

  32. {Actually, I've been told on ocassion my voice is too strong, too real, I should tone it down, and yes, I could sharpen up my writing, but as for the toning it down because it's too real, I'm not quite ready for that.

    How do you deal with that? }

    Tina--contests can be great. But you have to be able to throw out the bad advice. KNOW who your judges are? Can they _really_ teach you something you don't already know?

    You have to be savvy when dealing with judge's comments--if it rings a bell, then you know if your gut you were probably thinking the same thing the whole time. If it sounds off-base, then it probably is and should be filed in the circular file...

  33. Okay, Karen, you do have a few scars. Now I feel so much closer to you. :-)

    Seriously, I'm looking forward to reading your books. They must be good if Ruthy and all these other people love them. :-)

  34. As far as Bling goes, I got a lovely Barclay pin once.

    I bought an outfit to match it.

    And I noticed Myra at the last conference I attended with her wearing her Golden Heart Necklace. I noticed it because she held a conveniently positioned magnifying class up to her neck at all times.

    Okay! We know, you won!

    So, tiaras, I actually own two, no three, two weddings and a homecoming queen.

    No, not me, my children. So I have their tiaras and I would never ever consider trying them on.


  35. Karen, you offered great advice a few minutes ago, that ya' gotta step out of your comfort zone, there are no wimpy writers.

    With half the Seekers published now, Tina Russo jump-started the remaining Seekers by proposing a Plan B...

    Moving out of your comfort zone, daring us to try this and that, niggling us with ideas, cool guest speakers, and electric cattle prods.

    See? I only hang with the smart girls....

    Or is that smart-aleck girls?

    Probably why Mary and I get along, and speaking of Mary, honey-girl, can you grab the sweet tea set-up that I have in the galley kitchen area off of Conference Room B, please? While I know some of us will still grab coffee, it's getting warm and some sweet tea will set just fine with our Southern guest.

    And I always thought Falling Home was my favorite Karen White novel, then when I re-read After the Rain (the sequel), I realized that Falling Home had serious competition.

    And I've ordered Memory of Water as of this moment.


  36. Aw, come on Mary--you KNOW you want to!!! Nobody's looking--go ahead. Put on that tiara. I think you look lovely. :-)

    Speaking of the Golden Heart, my first book (the double RITA finalist) got two zeros when I entered it into the Golden Heart. See what I mean about choosing who to listen to???

  37. Thanks, Ruthy--I hope you enjoy THE MEMORY OF WATER. Not that I can pick a favorite 'child', but this one is by far. It exhausted me while writing it so I guess that's a good sign!

    Have you read my 2007 release LEARNING TO BREATHE? That's the one most similar to FALLING HOME so you might like that one, too.

    As for warmer weather--Ha! We had a near-freeze this morning here in Atlanta and do you know why??? Because _I_ bought a convertible. The day I brought it home, the temperature dropped 20 degrees and it started raining. All of Georgia can thank me for ending the drought!

  38. Well don't worry if I don't sass anyone for a while.

    Karen gets a break!!!!

    I have to go to the dentist. I would MUCH rather be here welcoming guests.

  39. Karen, I read Learning to Breathe last fall/winter, sometime in there.


    So much for our long-lived friendship and memory skills, 'cause I e-mailed you that it reminded me of Falling Home...

    (Like you're THAT popular that you don't remember my e-mails?????)

    but shorter, and that I like your ability to deal with a large cast and a big book without page-filling nonsense.

    Karen's got a great way of working with an ensemble cast. The Color of Light, a 2005 release and one of the shorter NAL books, has a lot of interesting elements in the story. A little fancy, a touch of whimsy, a hint of spooky and ethereal thrown in for good measure, with a nice dash of romance. And the NAL stories are about half the size of the Kensington books, aren't they, Karen?

    Oh, wait, I see Missy toting in a real Southern BBQ lunch, in honor of our esteemed guest.

    Karen, grab a plate Sweetums, and be first in line, enjoy a little bit of our down home hospitality while I run and get some desserts going. I think rainbow sherbet would be nice, don't you?

    Perhaps with a sprig of mint garnish.

    So many things, so little time!


  40. I come bearing barbeque and corn on the cobb, only I won't share until you all APOLOGIZE for spreading little white lies about me cutting in line, etc. I'm sure it was an accident.


    Oh, and I had planned to take a photo with Karen at the booksigning so I could brag to Ruthy that I had spent the day with her, but she had to head out too quickly to another book signing. Busy, busy author!

    I loved In the Shadow of the Moon, too--the Civil War in Georgia book. I also love that you've never let anyone tell what you can't write. Yay for you, Karen!

    Okay. Gotta go pick corn out of my teeth and go to the dentist. Oh, wait, it's my son's appointment. I guess I can enjoy the taste for a little longer.

    Missy :)

  41. Hey, Ruthy--

    My pathetic memory certainly apologizes--I actually DO remember having an email exchange regarding Learning to Breathe. Sigh. I really am on my last brain cell, I think...

    ANYWAY, believe it or not, but all of my books are about the same word length (100K - 120K) (Except for The House on Tradd Street which clocked in at almost 140,000 words!). I think the difference is in the size of the pages and type of font used in the mass market vs. trade paperback size that makes them seem like they have different word counts.

  42. Guys, I'm leaving the boxed supper in Myra's hands 'cause I've got to head into work for a few hours.

    I'll check back later and see who's stopped in, who's been brave enough to chat, and how we're doing on evening snacks.

    Karen, tell us about NAL?

    Are they as wonderful as they seem? The quality of their books goes beyond simple genre classification, and I love that about them.

    Do you work with Ellen? Anne?

    Dish, girl. Tell us they're as wonderful as they seem.


  43. Karen! Sorry I'm late. I had a conference in the city (think pathogenic organisms and hopefully ideas for future stories) and kept yearning to get home so I could tell everyone how much I love your writing. Okay, I love you too! So glad you're visiting us in Seekerville today!

    Hope you'll be at our GRW meeting this SAT so I can have you sign my copy of THE MEMORY OF WATER, which I can't wait to read!

    As Karen knows, I've read her other books and loved them all. She's headed for the New York Times, ladies; in fact I don't know why she's not there yet. Anyone attending the RWA National Conference this summer will see her photo and book cover displayed at the gala awards ceremony . . . hopefully she'll be graciously accepting her RITA that night as well . . . wearing her tiara, of course.

    A bit of Karen White trivia: Some of you might not know that Karen was elected GRW President the year she sold her first book. I don't know how she did it all, juggling new writer commitments and running a professional organization 250-strong. Always poised and prepared and accessorized with lots of contest-win jewelry around her neck, Karen did us proud.

  44. Hi Karen! Ruthy's daughter here. I know, I can't believe I admit to it either, but alas, there it is. I realized many years ago that we look too much alike for anyone to miss the fact that we're related, so I just admit to it early on and offer my profound apologies to those familiar with Ruthy's snarky comments. :)

    I would just like to state for the record that I have read (and thoroughly enjoyed) FALLING HOME and AFTER THE RAIN. I'm looking forward to stealing my mother's copy of THE MEMORY OF WATER and giving her a serious tongue-lashing for not telling me she had more of your books at home. See what happens when I move out of state? I no longer have access to her "stash" of books.

    Ruthy, love you! :) Can't wait to see you in a few weeks. I'll buy the Starbucks!

  45. Since Mary is gone, I can ask MY favorite question.

    I love to know how authors perculate.

    How long do you let a story inside you ferment? Are you a huge plotter? Who writes the story, the author or the characters?

    Do you write from 9 to 5 daily or is every day a surprise schedule?

    You mentioned getting in your daily word count before you came in to party in Seekerville.

    Tell me more....

  46. OK, Ruthy--I'll bite!

    NAL is wonderful. They're a part of Penguin Publishing which is huge and means they have a lot of resources behind them.

    I actually work with Cindy Hwang, Executive Editor at Berkley (long, LONG story) and she's wonderful. She really likes what I do and is pretty much hands-off. I've never had more than a tweak in terms of editing.

    Their art department is wonderful--and I have the most beautiful covers because of it. They also are capable of doing some really cool promo things (including sending out a TON of ARC's) which is an expensive--yet necessary--marketing tool.

    They also have a really nice party at National each year. :-)

  47. Hi, Debby!!

    I'm glad you could stop by.

    For those of you who aren't aware, Debby is actually St. Debby and she and I are on a first name basis with St. Jude. :-)

    And thanks for reminding me to bring my tiara this summer! I don't really expet to win (I'm up against Nora Roberts, fer cryin' out loud!) but I still need to have my tiara!! I'll pack it next to the remote control fart machine (for Nora's chair).

    Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it to the GRW meeting this Saturday. I'm speaking at the Atlanta Writer's Club. Oh, to be so popular! (cough) I hate trying to sound interesting and intelligent. It takes all of my energy...

  48. Hi, Beth!

    So YOU'RE Ruthy's daughter. Hmmm, the imagination is running wild here....

    My daughter just turned 16 and is taking her driver's test this weekend. Lord help us all... But this mother/daughter dynamic is a fun thing---and I must say that ours is made easier by our love of books. I can always get her to behave by promising her a trip to the bookstore. Alas, with her driving I guess she can do that by herself now. (sniff)

  49. PS Beth---if your mother has PIECES OF THE HEART you might enjoy it--it's a great mother/daughter story and the one I tell people is for every woman who's ever had a mother. :-)

  50. Tina asked: [How long do you let a story inside you ferment? Are you a huge plotter? Who writes the story, the author or the characters?]

    I'm a seat of the pants writer and would LOVE to have an idea percolate for a month or so, but with never ending deadlines I never get that chance anymore!

    As a mother of two, I write when I can. Meaning, I have a laptop and wrote most of my last book at the horse barn or the school parking lot (serious!). I don't wait for the muse to hit--I just DO IT.

    And my characters definitely write my books (which is why it's hard for me to plot to the end because I don't know what my characters are going to do when I start the book!)

  51. Oh, Karen, you have my sympathy on the driving. When my son turned 16, it felt like he was never home again. A very hard transition.

    Plus, being scared sick until he arrived home each night. Of course, now he's 18, and it's not much better.

    Not to be a downer or anything. :)

    I'm so glad you came to visit today! I'm going to say bye and make myself stay offline the rest of the night. I'm typing in revisions on a mss that I want to mail tomorrow, and I still have to write a !#$%#$%$! synopsis.

    I'll be up all night.

    See you soon. Hope the speech goes well on Saturday. I know you'll wow them.


  52. I go away for a few hours, to pay a vast amount of money to let people use powertools on my head, and look at this site, all the comments.


    I did use the time well though. I brainstormed my book. I worried that I might do some pavlovian thing and end up hating my book, but I rished it. And I've come up with a scene that's graet about a child being stung nearly to death by bees. I think it could work. The buzzing of the dentist drill helped me brainstorm...maybe I'll dedicate the book to my dentist.

    I have a firm policy against thanking dentists and policemen who give me tickets.
    I just can't say the words and consider myself an honest person.

    I was able to adhere to that today, no problem.

    In two weeks I will have officially paid more for the crowns and caps than I paid for the car I'm driving.

  53. I'm also late to the party. Too much going on this week. (She says as she holds her magnifying glass to her GH necklace. I mean, how else am I going to cheer myself up? Necklace but no contract??? I'm dyin' here!)

    And BTW, there are no boxed lunches on Unpubbed Island. It's mahi mahi and wild rice. Maybe a yam or two.

    And Karen, tell me more about the horse barn! As I was rapidly skimming all these comments, those words zinged out at me and made me so envious! I am (was) a late-blooming equestrian and have really missed my riding lessons since we moved two years ago.

  54. Oh, Mary, did you have to remind me? I have to have a filling redone on Thursday. All because the dentist didn't get it right the first time. As Ruthy would say, Oy Vey! (At least I think Ruthy always says that. Even though she's not Jewish.)

  55. Karen, are you and Wendy Wax still critique partners? As I recall, you used to meet weekly. Would you share how you structure your sessions together?

  56. Enjoyed Karen's post. All these comments here are an education in how this publishing business works. Thank you ladies for the enlightening posts yesterday and today. They're more informative that my writer's group.

  57. Hi, Myra--Thanks for joining us!

    We live northo f Atlanta in an area that is just about 80% horse farms. My 16-year-old daughter rides quite a bit--but we've as yet resisted the purchase of a horse for her. I just know that it would become _my_ responsibility and if I added one more thing to my plate, my head would explode. She does a few shows a year and I explained to her that when she's on her own, it's a sport she can pursue later ie. when she can afford to buy her OWN horse!

    The book I'm working on now is set at a horse farm outside of Savannah, Georgia so I won't have to go very far for research!!

  58. Yes, Debby--Wendy and I are still critique partners. Our lives are very similar (husbands who travel and active kids of the same age) so we're very flexible about how often and where we meet---we've even met for a quick swap at Lord & Taylor's before (grin)
    Right now we're in a lull--Wendy's finished hers and I'm just getting started--so my output is very slow right now so we might not meet for another two weeks. Towards the end, it would be at least every week--sometimes just a late stop at a Starbuck's.

    We email chapters when we get them done and then sit down and go page by page---what worked, didn't work, and overall perspective.

    We each like what the other is writing and 'get' it--and this is vital. I would NEVER rewrite anything she's written--she does a great job on her own. I tell her from a reader's perspective what doesn't work for me.

  59. Thanks, Karen, for sharing how you work together. Wendy's great! And you both create wonderful works of fiction that the rest of us enjoy!

  60. Karen if your daughter really loves horses...my daughter was on the equestrian team in college. She should look into that. Wendy learned a lot and have a lot of fun.

  61. Myra, we love Mahi Mahi!

    And the wild rice is to die for, thanks for bringing it, I love how you tweaked it with some pineapple and paprika. Waaaay better than any old boxed lunch supper.

    Look at this place!

    Hooray, hooray, we love a good time in Seekerville!

    Mary, I've seen your car. I can easily believe your caps/crowns cost more.

    Probably three times as much.


    Karen, you've got several pantsers here as well, and it sounds like you and Wendy are blessed by proximity, talent, drive and ambition. Wonderful combination.

    And yeah, I just might let Beth borrow some books when she comes home for her WEDDING shower in three weeks.

    Hence all the baking and secret stuff at our house.

    Karen, the tone and flavor of Falling Home and After the Rain are fun Southern snark. The NAL books have a gentler, more introspective feel to them, more mainstream with SRE. I love that you not only write both, but that no one has tried to brand you or pigeonhole you in one mode or the other.

    Are they okay with you changing your style at Penguin, or would you have to use a different publisher if you wanted to write in a different vein?

    And Pat Jeanne, welcome, kid! Good to have you here, and thanks for the kudos. We might be silly, but we're deadly serious when it comes to writing.

    And practical jokes.

    And making fun of Mary.

    Glad you stopped in, and double glad you jumped into the sandbox. We love to share our toys.


    Just so you know:

    The green shovel's mine. No one touches the green shovel. 'kay???


  62. Thanks, Ruthy--I had fun (even though I couldn't play with the green shovel (sniff)).

    As for changing up the writing a bit--well, wait until you see my November book, The House on Tradd Street. The main character is a single, anal-retentive realtor in Charleston who's in denial about her ability to see dead people and her sidekick is a wise-ass famous author who solves and writes about true-crime mysteries from the past.

    This is WAY different from my other stuff (and it's straight NAL fiction--not one of my ACCENT books) and they're letting me keep my name since there's still a lot of Karen White elements (conflicted characters, emotional bits etc.) but there's a lot more LOL moments than I've ever written before. I'm worried/eager to hear reader's responses!

  63. Karen, thanks for being with us today! It's been great!

    Ohhh, I'm so looking forward to THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET. Love Charleston, love people who see dead people, love true crime, love your writing!

    Y'all come back now, hear?

  64. Thanks for being here Karen,

    Ordered two of your books today now will be waiting your new release.

  65. Sorry I'm late, Karen--thanks for joining us today! And BTW, I went to the dentist YESTERDAY. Yup, fun-filled day.

  66. Karen, you've been gracious and wonderful, as only a true Georgia peach can be.


    Thanks so much for the fun back and forth, and be sure to stuff some of those extra cookies in your purse like my Grandma does.

    I'm looking forward to reading Memory of Water. I love how you manage to wind a reader through the ups and downs of a relationship and leave us feeling good in the end.

    Bless you, kid. You're a great sport.


  67. Thanks, Ruthy--I've had a great time (although I'm going to have to spend an extra hour on the elliptical machine today to work off all that barbeque and cookies not to mention sweet tea...)

    If anybody wants to sign up for my mailing list to be alerted whenever I have a new book out, you can sign up here: www.karen-white.com. And, no, I don't let anybody else see my mailing list--except for my daughter who is paid in expensive purses to maintain it and do my mailings. Poor thing. She has better purses than I do...

  68. Tried to leave a comment to tell Karen thanks for coming and sharing with us. But the site kept kicking me off. OH well. Maybe this one will get through

    Thanks, Karen.

    And for the rest of you and Ruth. Thanks for the invite to the site.


  69. Hi Karen, if your book voice is anything like your blog voice I know I'm going to love your stories!

    I have to admit, until recently I was - ahem - shall we say, unfamiliar with your work. But a couple of weeks ago my critique partner, Desire author Tessa Radley, told me I would enjoy your writing, so I put you on my mental shopping list. (Now I'm moving you into my actual online shopping cart).

    Hope I get the chance to say hi to you in SanFran - are you doing a workshop there? And congrats on the RITA final.

  70. Hi, Abby!

    Yes, I'll be in San Fran. I'm doing a workshop on 'genre bending' for those of us who feel the desire to write different things. I can write funny, but I can also make you cry. It's finding a publisher who understand me that has made all the difference!

    Please do the wave everyone when they say my name at the RITA ceremony!

  71. That workshop sounds right up my alley. Short of my editor insisting on buying me an expensive meal at that precise moment, I'll be there! i.e. it's 99.99% certain I'll be there :)