Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Write the Crazy Book!

Kara Isaac Website

by Kara Isaac

Hi Seekerville, my name is Kara Isaac and I’ve basically had the writer’s equivalent of stage fright for six months - ever since my editor told me they’d managed to hoodwink the Seekerville ladies into giving me a guest blog post here. I’m a longtime fan (usually lurking, sorry ladies, but the time difference with New Zealand means that I inevitably find my way here when the comments have gone into the triple digits and I get comment performance anxiety and just freeze up under the pressure!). All of which is a very longwinded way of saying that the first time I met the lovely Julie Lessman at ACFW Conference 2009 where I regaled her with a crazy story about how I met my husband. SO after much angsting about my Seekerville debut I decided I had might as well continue on with the theme and tell you the story about my crazy book that releases next week.

So, with no further ado, I present Write the Crazy Book (subtitle: When An Editor Hands You An Awesome Book Idea on a Plate and You Think She’s The Crazy One)

“Have you ever thought about writing a book set in New Zealand about the Lord of the Rings movies?” It was the 2013 ACFW conference in Indiana and the question had just been posed to me by an editor who was considering two of my manuscripts. Who I’d pitched to before and gotten along well with. Who had said very complimentary things about my writing to my agent. A meeting I’d had very high hopes for. Needless to say, neither of the manuscripts she was looking at had anything to do with hobbits.

“Um, no,” was my ineloquent reply, and I hoped my face didn’t show exactly what I thought of the idea. In my head I was thinking: New Zealand? Lord of the Rings? Are you serious? In the seven or so years I’d been serious about writing, there was one piece of advice I’d been given repeatedly. American audiences aren’t interested in international locations. If you want to break into the American Christian market, your stories need to set in America about American characters. That’s what sells. I’d completely rewritten my first manuscript, originally set in New Zealand, on that basis. And now one of my dream editors, who had said nice things about my two contest finaling, commercially appealing manuscripts was suggesting I not only take my writing back home but add in orcs and elves? It was one of the craziest things I’d ever heard.

The next thought that flashed into my head was as unexpected as her question. A disillusioned tour guide and a failed entrepreneur. Since I had nothing to lose, I threw it at her, and we spent the final five minutes of my pitch appointment bouncing a few ideas around for the crazy story that I was never going to write.

A week later, I flew home, where I fully intended to let the crazy idea die and start working on something that might actually sell. But it wouldn’t. The characters named themselves Jackson and Allie. An American and a New Zealander. Their unwanted backstory started finding crevices in my mind to fill. And so, after a few weeks, I emailed my agent, Chip. An email that basically said, So Editor A had this crazy idea at ACFW that I should write a book set in New Zealand about Lord of the Rings. It’s crazy right? And even if it wasn’t, the timing is like five years too late. The movies are almost finished. No one is going to care about Tolkien a year from now. So if you could just confirm that it’s totally bonkers, I’ll start thinking of a new idea that might actually have a chance at making you some money.

Much to my complete shock, he came back having drunk the same Kool-Aid as the editor. He thought it was a great idea with lots of potential if I did it right. The whole world had officially gone crazy, and because I was five months pregnant and had no other sparkling ideas for a new story, I decided to join them.   

Four months later, I’m in the labor and delivery unit of my local hospital where my 12 days overdue daughter is about to be evicted into the world. I’d spent the last few months anxiously awaiting news on the manuscripts that were out with various editors, and the running joke had become I bet I hear back when I’m in labor.

Sure enough, in that enjoyable hour between being admitted and scrolling through everything I could find on my phone to keep my mind off what was about to come, in dropped an email from my agent. Editor A loves your stuff but her house has put a hold on acquiring any more contemporary romances while they assess their existing line up. Of course they had. I was 30,000 words into Allie and Jackson’s story, I could no more abandon it now than I could abandon giving birth to the reluctant child inside of me. I was committed. Even if the one person I was writing it for wasn’t going to be able to do anything with it.

Six months later, I finished the manuscript. A fun, quirky romantic comedy about second chances that was mostly written in a haze of sleep deprivation and general “Oh well. No other publisher’s going to be interested, so I had might as well go nuts,” c’est la vie kind of approach because the only other one was inconsolable crying that I was writing 90,000 words that were predestined to gather dust in my agent’s collection of unsold manuscripts before he’d even read it.

Click to Buy
In July, I packaged it up and sent it off to my agent. I asked him no questions about what happened to it from there because I didn’t want him to have to tell me, “I’m really sorry, Kara. I pitched it to fourteen editors, and they all turned me down somewhere between New Zealand and Gandalf.” To this day, apart from the original catalyst editor and my editor from Howard Books who bought it, I have no idea who else saw it!

Three months later, I got an unexpected email from Chip. Beth Adams from Howard Books is interested and has a few questions. My immediate reaction was Ah, bless. Beth is taking pity on me and pretending to think about it to let me down gently. I’d known Beth for a number of years, having met her at my first ever ACFW conference, and she was a pro at rejecting my manuscripts in a way that made me feel good until I worked out I had actually just been turned down (again).  Besides, Beth worked for Howard Books, which is part of Simon & Schuster. They published authors like Karen Kingsbury and Tosca Lee. Even if, in some weird alternate universe, they liked the story, me with my whole fifty-something Facebook followers and hundred-and-something Twitter connections had about as much a chance at a contract as I did at fitting back into my pre-pregnancy jeans.

The first set of questions turned into more questions, then a request from Beth to Skype and talk. And somewhere along the line, it dawned on me: I don’t think she’s just being nice. She may actually really want this crazy book. But I didn’t let myself dare to really hope. I had been to so many editorial committees and publishing boards—including getting an offer from a publisher only for it to get pulled when they decided to review their entire fiction line—that allowing real hope to take hold felt foolish.

In December, Chip emailed to let me know an offer was coming (right as I was about to walk into a big “real job” meeting, but that’s another story!) and it finally sank in. Where Chip had pitched two commercially appealing manuscripts that fit within all the boundaries for what we knew publishers were looking for, God had chosen the crazy book that I had predetermined was never going to fly to be the one that opened the publishing door.

So in this Seekerville year of no fear, from one debut (scared out of her mind) author to you, I say go write that crazy book that breaks all the rules you’ve been told for success but has lodged its way into your heart and won’t let go. You never know where it might take you J

This is the part where the blog posting gurus say you should ask a stimulating and engaging question to get the ball rolling and people falling over themselves to hit the comments button. However, the blog posting gurus don’t have a toddler who is in the throes of a long-running sleep strike so I have no engaging question beyond why won’t she just sleeeeeeeeeep?! but I do have a pot of full
Click to Buy
cafffeinated New Zealand Free Trade Belle Blend Coffee and a paperback copy of Close To You for a lucky commenter so please accept that as the blatant bribe that it is to say hi (and ask questions – I’m good with questions!)!

Close To You
A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuff Oreos in New Zealand. Her sophomore romantic comedy, Can’t Help Falling, is another crazy book about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England. It will be an October 2016 release from Howard Books and (shameless self promotion!) if you purchase Close To You by April 26 you can go in the draw to win 1 of 15 advance copies of Can’t Help Falling (see http://www.karaisaac.com/news/ for entry details). She loves to connect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Writer and Twitter @KaraIsaac


  1. I'm soooo excited for you. And to think that I met you at one of the Texas Grapevine ACFW conferences. Not the last one. The one before that. And you sat across from me and Myra and a few others of us on that little tram and you said, "You're the Seeker girls."

    I don't believe anyone had ever said that to us before!!!

    And now you have this wonderful, wonderful sale!!!

    Congratulations. The premise is so cool too!!!

    So excited for you.


  2. Kara - how fun! Congratulations on your book, it sounds great. and what an exciting journey to publication.

    I love hobbits. I should have been one. I would love to travel to New Zealand someday. Perhaps o could meet you in person.

    Meanwhile I have nothing engaging to ask. I'd love to be in the hat for the book. Oh, I wil ask if you've always written the same genre? I'm always wanting to veer off and try something new.

  3. Hi KARA! What a fascinating post - the stuff of dreams for sure! Congratulations on the book - and the baby :-) Thank you so much for sharing your story. It gave me goose bumps...and hope. Wishing you all the best!

  4. Hi Kara! Wow! What a story. I had no idea you'd gone through so much... Is Can't Help Falling one of the two manuscripts you wrote before Close to You? or is that a fourth manuscript?

  5. Congratulations Kara! You're funny! I didn't catch that, really until this post! You fit right in with the Seekerville crowd! Lol. Thanks for stopping by! I must be really out of it, but did you say LOTR in NZ?! How cool! I'm looking forward to meeting you at CFRR (promotional shout out too!) this summer. That's a long flight for you!

    Anyways, love your covers and your titles! (Those are the main draws for me). So definitely throw my name in the hat for Close to You!

  6. Hi Everyone!

    I'm so excited to be here. It's early Tuesday evening in NZ so I'll be bouncing in and out for the next few hours while I co-wrangle the little people through their evening!

    TINA - I remember that - on the shuttle going into Grapevine (in my way to buy Double Stuf Oreos because you can't get them in NZ LOL). And THANK YOU, I love my covers too. Bruce and the team at Howard Books have done an amazing job with them!

    TERRI - if you ever do plan that trip to NZ let me know! I will give you ALL the tips and of course if you're ever in Wellington we will do coffee :)

    Gotta go chase children, back soon!

  7. So happy to see a familiar face around these parts!

    This is an incredible book, and I can't wait for everyone to get their hands on it! <3

  8. LAURA - I'm so glad it's given you hope. Thanks for dropping by :)

    PATRICIA - Can't Help Falling is my fifth manuscript and first one written under contract. That's a whole other story (key lesson: I really need to learn how to plot because turning a book in and working out the plot during developmental edits is less than idea!)

    ANNIE - I am so looking forward to seeing you at CRFF too :) And yes, all of the Lord of the Rings ad Hobbit movies were filmed in NZ (with a few trips offshore for specific things). It created huge employment and opportunities here. I know people who were everything from extras, to catering to IT :)

    LAURIE - It wouldn't be nearly as good if it wasn't for all my amazing critique partners who keep talking me off the ledge! :)

  9. Kara, It was fun hearing the story about your journey to publication, since I'm still there (though focused more on writing right now than on pitching). I too feel like I am forever writing nontraditional books that no one may want, so your story was encouraging. How long had you been trying to get published? Both books sound really cool, so please put my name in the draw and congratulations!

  10. Kara, thanks much for this inspiration! As a debut author of a "crazy" kind of story I can appreciate where you're coming from, especially since I'll be soon submitting my next crazy book. May your work be blessed.

  11. Your story sounds so fun, glad you wrote it. :) My crazy book is coming out this August which I was writing before another one of mine got picked up because I just had to write my Aladdin/Scrooge story idea and get it out of my system before going back to writing more "marketable" things.

  12. Congratulations Kara! What a great post on your road to getting published. Your book sounds awesome and I would love to read it.

    May you have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  13. Crazy works for me.

    Count me in thank you.

  14. Okay, the little people are in bed and I'm back! :)

    LARA - I started writing in late 2005/early 2006 so from then it was nine years until I signed my contract and it will be just over ten years when Close To You is published. Which sounds like a REALLY long time (and it definitely felt like it too at times!) but I wouldn't have it any other way!

    ELAINE and MELISSA - more "crazy" book writers. Hurray!

    CINDY - thanks so much for dropping by :)

  15. TERRI - I forgot to say that when I first started writing it was chick-lit but then the whole genre went and up and died around the same time I finished by first manuscript so I played around with women's fiction and contemporary romance and kind of fell into romantic comedy because those were what always did better in contests!

    Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone. It's late in New Zealand now so I'm going to turn the lights out and look forward to visiting some more in the morning (I've even taken the day off the day job - hurrah!)

  16. I love crazy! What a great story, Kara...thanks for sharing it with us. I can't wait to read this book!

  17. Congratulations, Kara! Goosebumps multiplied over my body as I read your story. I see the hand of God paving the way, and you FOLLOWED! I can't wait to read your book. I'd love to have my name in the drawing. Thanks so much, and congratulations again!

  18. Hi Kara

    Your crazy book sounds like my cup of tea and so does "Can't Help Falling"-I love the Narnia books. I've been following your career via your blog posts elsewhere on the internet and it's exciting to see where you are now. Well done.

    Is the first chapter of "Close to You" available anywhere to read?

  19. Thanks, Kara! I'll take your bribe. ;) What a great post! I think it's too easy to try and "fit" with what the industry is already selling. Crazy is sometimes what it takes. Makes me feel better about my current series as it has books set in Canada, Germany and Russia and I have shared your "location" concerns. I do love the premise of your story...but then, I'm a Lord of the Ring fan! :)

  20. Kara, your books sound so fascinating!! Thanks for sharing your story here! (Sorry about the rejection during labor, though. That's pretty tough.)

  21. We are big hobbit fans here.

    Big Tolkien fans.

    I have a friend who named her herd of Scottish Highland cattle all after Lord of the Rings' characters.

    My son Seth has created huge armies of Lord of the Rings soldiers using Lego men and modeling clay.

    Did I mention we are big fans? I love fantasy, I love tiptoeing into new realms, and the thought of creating Middle Earth ROCKS!

    So how fun that she thought of this, offered you the chance to write it and YOU DID IT!

    Kara, that rocks.

    That's dream-come-true stuff.

    LOVE IT!

    Congratulations, lovely lady, and welcome to the blog chair of Seekerville!

  22. A romance SET around fantasy...

    Well, aren't they all, LOL????? :)

    Kind of laughing here.

  23. HELLO KARA! CONGRATULATIONS on your upcoming release! New Zealand and Lord of the Rings, sounds incredible! I'm so excited!!!!

    Please put my name in for the drawing of a paperback copy of Close To You.

  24. Hi Kara!

    Let's just say I have had my eye on this book since I randomly found it on Amazon a while back. I'm so excited for its release...I can't wait to read it! I am a huge LOTR fan, and am excited to see how you use it in this story. Congratulations on your success!!

    Please put my name in the drawing!!

  25. Thanks for being our guest today, KARA, and for sharing this fun adventure with us! I totally get it about characters burrowing into your brain and not letting go. There's not much else to do but give in and write the book!

  26. Oh my goodness, TINA, thanks for reminding me about meetin KARA on the tram at the ACFW conference! I hadn't put 2 and 2 together! Yes, that was so fun!

  27. Kara, what a fun story! You had me grinning and chuckling (and making my boys wonder what was so funny) as I read your post. It's always fun to read how a book idea is conceived, and even more to hear about it's birthday. I love how God works in unexpected ways. May He continue to bless your writing journey!

  28. Kara, I love this post. Congratulations on your debut novel. Please enter me for a copy of your book.

    I must get to writing. I am having my Speedbo in April making up for what I couldn't do in March. It got into the 80's yesterday. Hopefully we will have more summer like temps today!

  29. KARA-- Your "crazy" books sound delightful!!! As a long-time Tolkien and C.S. Lewis fan, I'm definitely going to check these out! Thank you for sharing your amazing journey with us!

  30. Kara, this is an amazing post and gives us all hope.
    Kathy Bailey

  31. Kara, both books sound great. I've already pre-ordered the first one.

  32. Kara, BIG congrats on your long overdue success! Many blessings over your stories, which--BTW--sound like SO MUCH FUN!

    (And I'm toasting you with a big, ol' cup of coffee from over my way.) :)

  33. Oh Gosh Kara you are so funny. And I love the premise of your new book. I hope it breaks the sound barrier of sales!

    BTW I got to watch my 10 year old daughter fit into my pre pregnant jeans - I never made it!

    Oh and Tolkien never dies- His stuff is on at least it's 2nd cycle during my lifetime and I still love it

    Thanks for kicking my day off laughing

  34. Kara, I suppose ten years would sound like a long time to a non-writer, but I don't think it's an exceptionally long time for a person to hone their novel-writing skills. I've found that time flies when I'm writing and, as long as I focus on enjoying the journey, I can keep myself from becoming impatient for the outcome. By the way, I just added both your books to my Goodreads reading list. Can't wait to dig in! One more question: Do you pronounce that Kah-ruh (same as mine but with a K instead of an L)?

  35. Love this post! Congrats on your novel and soon to be sophomore novel. You definitely inspired me to write a crazy story. Who knows, maybe they'll have to make a new genre based off your books...wouldn't that be awesome?!

  36. KARA, welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for sharing your journey toward publication, told with your delightful sense of humor. I was one of the Seekers who met you and your pals on the way to Grapevine. Fun to connect here and later this summer at ACFW and the readers retreat CFRR. Huge congrats on taking up the editor's challenge. Sometimes we need a nudge to discover the story of our hearts.

    I brought double stuffed Oreos to celebrate your visit.


  37. The book sounds awesome despite the fact that the fantasy genre makes me itchy, and I've never actually made it through a Lord of the Rings movie/book. My husband talks about a trip to New Zealand but insists I have to watch the movies first, so it might still happen...

    Congrats on your book sale. Way to keep at it despite the extra challenges you had to overcome. And I'm curious to see what crazy books are inspired by this post. ;-)

  38. The book sounds awesome despite the fact that the fantasy genre makes me itchy, and I've never actually made it through a Lord of the Rings movie/book. My husband talks about a trip to New Zealand but insists I have to watch the movies first, so it might still happen...

    Congrats on your book sale. Way to keep at it despite the extra challenges you had to overcome. And I'm curious to see what crazy books are inspired by this post. ;-)

  39. Hi Kara How fun to have a New Zealander here in Seekerville. I love that we can connect with writers all over the globe. I mean writers are writers no matter where we are from. Love your post and your story. It always amazes me how many different ways we all get off the island. smile

    Have fun today and thanks again for joining us and bringing us a breath of New Zealand.

  40. I LOVE the Lord of the Rings movies...especially the extended version. The books are really good too!! Your book sounds amazing...I think it would make a great story. Do they really give tours of the locations used for the movies? that would be so much fun!
    Congrats on your book and enjoy your toddler days...they grow way fast...my oldest is about to graduate from high school.

  41. What a fun post, Kara. I loved hearing how your unlikely story came about and went on to find a home. Congratulations on your release!

  42. How fun, Kara. I was hoping you would tell the rest of us the story of how you met your husband, though. I would love to win either of your books. I will be going home with atleast one of the no matter what. The cover might have enticed me, but it's your post that sold me on it. Thanks! YOU ROCK!

  43. If your blogging voice is anything like your novel voice, I think you've found a new fan!

    I can so appreciate and laugh about your journey to publication. We've all been there. You think you're smack dab in the center of what editors want, but what they want is CRAZY!! Who knew? When the Twilight series was all the rage, we'd joke that if we could write an Amish vampire romance where the vampire gets saved, we'd have a bestseller on our hands.

    As an editor I tried to sell my pub board on a couple of writers who lived in New Zealand. Terrific writers. I got the same excuses you did from everyone...sales, marketing, and other editors. [Cue their scoffing laughter.]

    So I'm especially happy you've made it to the big leagues!!!! Sometimes we just need to throw caution to the wind and write for fun. Hmmm, I wonder if a story about a hobbit who moves to New York and falls in love with a princess would get any traction. LOL

  44. Congratulations, Kara!! What a fun publication story. It's interesting that when we start out pursuing publication we envision how it will all happen, but it rarely seems to go that way--and there are no two pub stories just alike. I love the premise of your story (and the one to come!).

  45. Hi Kara!!! I really enjoyed your post today. What a great way to keep the "No Fear" theme going. I'm a huge LOTR fan and your story sounds amazing. I can't wait to read it. And if you get any great advice for the non-sleeping toddler, pass it along. My daughter is pretty sleep deprived because my granddaughter seems to think 2 am is the perfect time to wake up and play!

  46. The premise is just crazy enough to sound awesome! I love the idea. :) Can't wait to read it - and I love the cover of your upcoming release as well!


  47. Nine to ten years is not a long time to sell when you consider you have small children.

    It's all about God's timing and those babies come first. So brava for you.

    And it is 3:35 in New Zealand right now so I hope you are cutting zzzzzzs.


  48. Curious, Kara,

    Have you ever met your editor in person yet?

    Exciting that you are coming to ACFW again this year.

  49. What a terrific post, Kara! I love your story! Sounds like a dream come true...an editor telling you what to write. We all are LOTR fans, so your book sounds perfect for me and my teenagers. Looking forward to it!

  50. Congratulations, Kara!! What a fun way to make that first sale. :) I love the blurb of your book. Sounds like such a fun story! I can just picture you letting it flow and having such a good time with it.

    Maybe the key in this business is keeping it fun and exciting!

  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

  52. Tina and Kara, I think that year in Dallas was one that I went to. I remember being on the shuttle! :)

  53. CRAZY!!!

    Have you seen "My Life in Ruins"?

    Do you know how many millions of people have read Tolkien or Seen the four "Rings" movies?

    Have you seen the "no place more beautiful on earth landscapes" in New Zealand?

    This is not crazy to a marketing guy!

    It's 'High Concept'.
    It's a viewer's delight!
    It has an 'installed base' of millions of potential prospects!

    It would be more crazy if the movie rights are still available!

    Get Your Agent to Sell The Movie Rights!

    Start the Bidding!

    Hi Kara:

    From reading your wonderfully funny post today, I feel all you need to become able to buy a castle like Enya has in Ireland is a PMA.

    Postive Mental Attitude.

    I see an international title like: "Eat, Pray, Love - One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia"

    Something on the order of:

    "Hobbits, Kiwis, Love - One Woman's Journey of Discovery thru Middle-earth, New Zealand, and The Lord of the Rings!"

    I haven't seen so much potential in a romance novel since I first read Helen Fielding's "Bridget Jones' Diary".

    There are millions of people who need to see at a glance what this book is about and where it is set. Millions! And many of these, who have never read a romance, can still be prospects because of their love of Tolkien and a desire to vicariously revisit New Zealand. (Have You Seen ("Austenland"?)

    OMG! Why would the publisher select a title like "Close to You" when there are already six "Close to You" titled books on Amazon right now? And why a title that has nothing to do with Tolkien or New Zealand?

    They must only be thinking of the local romance market and how they believe Americans don't want books set in other countries. That's what we call 'small ball' here in the colonies. 'Big ball' is the movies! It's worldwide! It's high concept, high visual, and having a universally themed love story.

    All you need is for others to see the vision.

    Bridget Jones's Diary.
    My Life in Ruins.

    This works.

    I'm so happy for you!


  54. Okay, as a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan I simply MUST buy this book. In fact, I'm off to do it right now. Sounds amazing. Love your voice and LOVED your journey. I'm so glad and happy for you and the literary world that Chip and Beth believed in this story. How wonderful. Enjoy the journey. And seriously! Writing with a toddler in the house! I am officially impressed. (Time out to go to Amazon to order the book only to find out that I have to wait until APRIL 26th!!!) Oh well, guess I can find something else to read until then.

  55. How exciting! God certainly had a sense of humor, doesn't he? For the record, I love reading about different places. It gets me out of my little world. :-) Congratulations! I am looking forward to reading it.

  56. Kara, I love your story! Your story! How you came to publication!!!

    I also love the blurb for your fictional tale. Oh my! You had me hooked at the get-go! Good for you! So excited about book 2 too! :)

    My next-door neighbor moved home to New Zealand last year. If you see Chris Smith in Christchurch, give her a big hug for me. Okay?

    BTW, how far are you from Christchurch...and the earthquakes. Oh my gosh. Be careful!

    Will we see you at ACFW this year? I bet not since you're a mom now. Congrats on birthing baby and books x 2!

    Hugs! BTW, no more lurking. Okay?

  57. Just saw the comment about the Dallas shuttle! I was there too! We met that night! Woot!

  58. Debby I think I was there, too! I remember meeting the ladies from Down Under!

    Welcome to Seekerville Kara. Love the idea of your book. Can't wait to read it!

  59. Interesting quote that reminded me of writers! And especially from Michael Hyatt

    Your fortunes rise or fall on the success of your current project. If it succeeds, you reap the lion’s share of the rewards. If it fails, you suffer the consequences. It’s your career on the line…This is why you must take matters into your own hands. Take responsibility for your own success and invite others to join you in the endeavor."

    – Michael Hyatt, Platform

  60. Kara, HUGE CONGRATS on your debut, and I love this fresh new take on Tolkein and C. S. Lewis. Brilliant!!! :)

  61. And this reminded me of how many irons we all have in the fire. All the marketing, emailing, facebooking, all the little distractions that are not as important as writing.

    "Effective workers do two things: they strive to do excellent work, and they spend their time on the most important things…Say no to the unimportant, and say no to the inclination to do less than your best. If you are doing your best work on the most important things, you will reach your goals."

    – Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, Boundaries

  62. Sorry, :) didnt' mean to launch into QUOTE DAY!

  63. Seeker worldwide tour... first to New Zealand, where Kara can uh... put us up! Then to Australia where we can visit AusJenny, then on to England. We'll find someone there to crash with... lol :)

  64. Kara, I love your road-to-publication story!

    My family loves Lord of the Rings, but I must admit, I've never seen the whole thing through. I tend to fall asleep. LOL.

    I think it's cool that you were able to make a story work that not the tried-and-true marketable book.


  65. The 'little people' are in bed, Kara? We're not talking about Hobbits, are we????

  66. You know 'Write the Crazy Book' well, okay sure it's crazy if you're the FIRST but now you're just a FRESH NEW VOICE!!!

    I like to think that's me. Seriously NO ONE was writing cowboys when I got my first contract. Even moreso no one was writing cowboy romantic-comedy.

    So for a while all my rejections were like, "Sorry doesn't fit our needs." Which I took to mean 'sorry no one is doing this and there's no place for it.'

    Then I finally got published and suddenly I'm a fresh new voice!!!

    You're one, too! WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  67. VINCE!!! What a great, exciting comment. YAY!!!

  68. Hi Kara
    You had me at LOTR. Your humor throughout your post is priceless!!! I see that your books are must gets for me. I love LOTR and C.S. Lewis. I think it is so cool that a comment made by an Editor sent you off on a crazy ride to publication. Sort of reminds me of my grad-school animation project that started when a friend of mine suggested I animate a story about what happens to the socks that get lost between the dryer and the laundry basket.

    Crazy is good. Please put my name into the draw for your book. I'm off to put it on my Wish List at Amazon to purchase if I don't happen to get lucky in the draw. I'll be keeping my sights on your book number two as well.

    LOVED YOUR POST!!!! Glad to meet a Kiwi. Isn't wonderful that Seekerville is global?

  69. I love what Kathy Bailey said.

    That this is what gives us hope.


    It's the wonderful way the human minds work together!!!! And then form a partnership and it ALL WORKS!!!


  70. I agree that nine to ten years isn't too long because we understand that here!

    I often see folks who get the nod quickly fall apart when they realize the whole new level of pressure that multiple deadlines and expectations and lines falling apart and people who don't necessarily instantly see and appreciate your level of genius....

    Not that this has ever happened to ME, of course!!!!

    I'm talking for a FRIEND.


  71. Mary,

    You are frightening me. I went to an entire class on Boundaries given by those guys..in Colorado Springs.

    Excellent stuff.

    Must pull it back out.

    Good stuff for a blog post.


  72. Oh my. I'm with you on the toddler on a sleep strike! But I popped in "Beauty and the Beast" and now she's snoozing on the couch. (Yay! Time to write!) On that note... how do you find time to write a whole book while chasing around a toddler? More often than not I think I *finally* have time to sit down and peck out a few words and then all of 50-100 words later she's up or the baby's crying because he's hungry. *Sigh* Granted, 50 words is still progress... but at that rate it will take 4 years just to get out the first draft and then who knows how long to polish!

  73. Tina seeing my quote and thinking BLOG POST is why she's great at this and I ... ahem ... struggle! :(
    It's yours Tina.

  74. I'm in the middle of reading your book right now, and people, it's crazily good! :)
    And hugs about the lack of sleep. #caffeinetotherescue #thistooshallpass

  75. Good morning, everyone! Wow, you really have been having a party while I slept :)

    I'll be bouncing in and out for the next hour or so while I wrong little people through things like breakfast and getting dressed and out the door and then I'll be all yours!

    RUTH ANNE - The first chapter of CTY is available in the Howard Fiction Sampler which is available free from most e-retailers

    LARA - yes, in NZ, we pronounce it Kah-ruh but I've also gotten used to answering to Kare-ah when I'm in the US :)

    JANET - you just pass though Double Stuff Oreos right over here. I ran out of supplies during edits on Can't Help Falling and it has been a very sad couple of months since!

  76. Oh Kara! What a fun and inspiring post! This is what every writer longs to hear. At least I do anyway. I know I have pushed aside 'crazy' ideas that I was so sure would not be commercially viable. But your post gives me hope. I think after I finish the 2 books I'm contracted to write, I just might have to go through some old journals and take a look at some of those old ideas. You never know, do you?
    Great post! Congratulations on your impending release and much success to you!

  77. So looking forward to reading your books! I was in the Howard Books session at ACFW this year (at my first conference), and it sounded fabulous. I love quirky and Lord of the Rings! Blessings

  78. Just finished reading it & loved it! Will post a review asap. Do not understand why U.S. publishers think readers do not like international settings. Of course I've never been normal. Quite a few years ago I consumed all Essie Summers' books which were set in New Zealand. I always liked the ones set in Australia too. This stay-at-home gal loves to travel through my books!

  79. Hi Kara!
    First I have to say Congrats and Blessings to you! I'll try to keep this short because I know your world is crazy and the whole New Zealand time difference is crazy. (I recently met a gal who's in New Zealand in an ARC group and it took me about 3 days of oddly timed emails before I looked up the time difference - you're like a WHOLE day ahead AND at a different part of the day to boot. Lol)

    While I'm not a Lord of the Rings fan, I really like lit and I love that you made the tour guide an English major. The 'insights' she could now add into Shakespeare and the like because of her previous relationship would be priceless! :) And being a type of entrepreneur myself, I can only imagine what Jackson's plans are for his great-uncle!

    My hat is off to you. Kudos on having the gumption to finish that crazy book...and for coming out of the lurker shadows to write and share a guest post with us (I too have had the deer-in-headlights feeling when trying to read all our awesome comments.). And thank you for sharing from your heart. I know there are many of us who find what you said inspirational...I look forward to seeing what other crazy books us Seeker Girls come up with this year thanks to the support and encouragement from you and the gang.

    Blessings to you on your books and your growing family!
    Don't be a stranger 'round here either! ;)

    P.S. And I'd sure like to win/read their crazy story. :)

  80. MICHELLE - thank you so much for your support, I really appreciate it :)

    ANGELA - thanks so much for dropping by. I have to say that some of the biggest compliments I've gotten early reviews have been "I'm not even a Lord of the Rings fan but..." As I was writing it I was conscious of trying to make it still a fit for non-Tolkien fans. Of course it helps that my hero knows absolutely nothing about them and is scrambling trying to fake it!

    NAOMI - yes, they still do tours based on the movie locations :) Though ten years since the last LOTR movie there are a few locations that have been returned to their original state. Of course, Hobbiton has been made a permanent fixture and attracts tens of thousands of visitors a year :)

  81. You bet it is, Connealy. I just ordered the book on Amazon. I probably have two copies here but you should see my office.

  82. Okay, the little ones have all been dispatched into their day so I'm back!

    MARIANNE - I'm sure I will one day get to tell the crazy story of how I met my husband because, funnily enough, it is very closely linked to one of my other manuscripts in a way that only God can do :)

    BARBARA - I pitched to you once when Abingdon was first beginning! It was before I was married so I had a different surname (and it was my first manuscript which has long since been retired ;-) ) You were very kind!

    LEANNE - Hi! Toddler time! So we seem to be having some success with homeopathic sleep drops. I have no clue if it's actually them or if it's the placebo effect of her being told she's getting special sleep medicine and the novelty of it but we have had a few nights since we started using them where she actually slept!!

    TINA - yes, I've met my lead editor, Beth Adams, three times - all at ACFW conferences :) Then last year, I also got to meet Ami McConnell the VP of Fiction at ACFW as well then after conference I had the fun of getting to go to Nashville and meeting my associate editor, Katie Sandell, and the rest of the amazing Howard team. And of course I'll get to see them again this year since ACFW is in Nashville. I'm so excited!

  83. VINCE - YOU are the reason my friend I got woken up this morning by a text from the friend saying "If you buy a castle, I'm coming to stay in the guest wing!" :) On the Tolkien/Lord of the Rings component there are some big intellectual property issues that prevented Howard from making more explicit links between Close To You and LOTR. In fact, before I was even offered the contract I had to write an essay on all the research I'd done around the IP aspects and why I thought the book would be clear of infringing on existing copyright and trademark protections (for example almost every name associated with Tolkien's creations is trademarked). Then the Simon & Schuster intellectual property legal team had to go through the entire book line by line and clear it for acquisition due to the right holders very stringent approach to anything that could infringe on their IP (you may have heard a few years ago some noise around a little English pub called The Hobbit that they took umbrage at!) Even after the content itself was deemed to not infringe it was also advised that in terms of title/cover/packaging etc. it had to stay clear of anything that could be perceived to be leveraging off existing rights because that can also be grounds for infringement action. Things that Austenland didn't have to worry about since Jane Austen's work is now all in the public domain! So it's not that my publishing team doesn't see the vision, we just also don't want to get sued by people with very deep pockets ;-)

    CAROLYNE - thanks so much for your support - I really appreciate it! I have it on good authority that the paperback version is about to start shipping so some people may receive that before the 26th! Kindle of course releases bang on midnight of the 25th :)

    DEBBY - I'm about an hour (by plane) north of Christchurch. And yes the earthquakes are not fun for them all down there :( The thing is that Wellington, where I live, is the city built on the faultline so it was always thought that we would be the ones who would get struck by the big quake. YES - I will be at ACFW this year. My "babies" are now four and two and are already being prepped for the big trip to America that Mummy is making in a few months!

    DEB H - thanks so much for your support. Yes, I love that Seekerville is so global. That was one of the things that opened up the door to my contract is the great new global village. Apart from a few timezone challenges living in New Zealand is not the huge insurmountable hurdle to getting published that it used to be when most engagement these days takes place online!

  84. Kara, Wow, I've always been fascinated by Australia and New Zealand. When I moved away from one place, the neighbors across the street gave me a book about that area, and the pictures were absolutely gorgeous and stunning. I've always loved romances set in that area of the world, and some of my fondest memories of conferences are talking to people who travel all around the world to attend. I'm so glad you wrote a book highlighting such a gorgeous part of the world (and I know you hear this a lot) and I told my husband when we watched LOTR that I want to go to New Zealand.

    So thanks for the post, and it's so neat hearing your story, especially the part about combining writing with family life.

  85. Hi Kara, I've been wanting to read yours books! This post is proof enough that you're a great storyteller, but I also got to hear you talk a bit at the conference last year in the Howard Books spotlight :) Thanks for sharing your publishing journey! It's so encouraging to see the way God works :)

  86. KARA!!! I just got back into town not 20 minutes ago after visiting my grandkids for a week across the country, so I apologize for being so late, but I LOVED this post, my friend!!

    You said: "I say go write that crazy book that breaks all the rules you’ve been told for success but has lodged its way into your heart and won’t let go."

    YES, YES, YES!! I would definitely concur because that's EXACTLY what I did with A Passion Most Pure! I was told a story about an Irish Catholic family would NOT fly in the CBA, that multiple POVs were a no-no, and that edgy romance was taboo, but it was the book of my heart, so I stayed with it. After 46 rejections, it found a home, and I found one of my greatest joys in writing about a passionate Irish Catholic family that I love and feel a part of to this day! No other families I've written about have captured quite like the O'Connors, so I'm glad I "broke the rules." :)

    Close to You sounds WONDERFUL, and I can't wait to read it!!

    Hugs and Happy Sales!

  87. Hi, Everyone. Sorry I had to disappear for awhile! My author copies of Close To You have been taking their own tour of New Zealand for the last ten days and they finally got (back!) to the local depot so I had to go and collect them (haven't seen them yet - am saving opening the boxes for when the family get home!)

    MEGAN - Oh I hear you! I wrote most of Close To You when I was heavily pregnant with our second and when she was a newborn so, even though I was exhausted, she at least had naps which now, as a toddler, she is getting increasingly resistant to! For Can't Help Falling I wrote all of that after I had returned to my "real" job. I wrote probably 80% of it at night once the little people were in bed, I don't think I really watched TV for about six months! And then as the deadline closed in I also took the occasional day off work to bunker down and really focus. I'm the kind of writer who needs to know I have a decent amount of time available to be productive. The people who can write in fifteen minute spurts amaze me!

    MEGAN #2 and PAM - Thank you so much! I'm so glad you're enjoying it :)

    MEGS - yes the timezone thing can be a challenge. Right now it's Wednesday afternoon. I also tell my US friends that I'm contacting them from the future ;-) The really crazy thing is when I come to the US and travel for like 20-something hours and find myself at my destination at pretty much the same time of the same day I left NZ!

  88. Kara, if your chirpy, adorable voice comes through as strong in your book as it does in this blog post, you're on your way! Best wishes to you. :)

  89. I'm looking forward to reading your books, there has been great buzz about Close to You! I can totally relate to your toddler woes... I was running on three hours of sleep today until I finally crashed during naptime :)

    Please put my name in the hat for your giveaway!

  90. Hi Kara:

    Sorry that I got you woke up early this morning. It's about 3:45 pm there now so this may be a better time.

    I'm surprised that with 'fair use' and 'use by permission' that the book could not be published. I did not expect you to use Tolkien's characters or fictional locations in the story. I thought it was about a person who was into the Rings story and a tour of the sites where the movie was filmed.

    I also cannot see what damages there could be by creating more interest in the Ring novels and movies. A movie about the making of the Ring movies in New Zealand would seem to be good PR. Of course if you use Ring characters in the story or screen shots from the movies, then I understand the objections. And yet I had a friend buy the rights to dozens of screen shots from one of those big Bible movies for his book for under $1000.

    In business it is said that good lawyers tell you why you can't do what you want to and thus keep you and them out of trouble. Great lawyers, however, tell you how you can do what you want to within the law.

    I would not give up on the vision that easily but it may be for another day and another time. In any event, now I really can't wait to read the book.

    BTW: My wife loved New Zealand and she said that the folks on both islands call their island "The Big Island" -- is that the case or is it something they tell the tourists?


  91. VINCE - you're back!

    Just to clarify, the book itself isn't in any danger of infringing (or so the New York lawyers who deal with these kids of things every day have said!) because while Tolkien trademarked terms are used liberally in the text (it would be impossible to write a book about the Lord of the Rings movie location tours by a group of obsessive Tolkien fans without ever referring to any of the characters or Tolkien created locations!) it falls under fair use and is also very clearly and obviously a totally different creative work i.e. there's no chance of a consumer buying it thinking they are buying some kind of previously undiscovered Tolkien work! The problem would come in if Howard then packaged the book in a way that might cause the consumer to infer there was a connection between my book and Tolkien's actual books and/or the movies.

    Most of us would think that anything that might create interest in the books or movies must good a good thing for the right holders (like a pub called The Hobbit with Hobbit theming!) but the Tolkien right holders are known for being quick to call in the lawyers when it comes to anything they perceive might be an infringement (which could be as "minor" as if the cover had font that was similar to the font in the movie titles). This is fair because in the world of IP, once you start allowing people to infringe without acting on it you quickly find your rights being eroded. Additionally, because of the success of the movies etc. getting permission/licensing rights to anything Tolkien related is known to be prohibitively expensive and can take years to negotiate.

    Which is all a very long winded way of saying that if CTY is a success and someone becomes interested in the movie this will all be for them to untangle but as a debut author with an uncertain number of books that would sell staying well away from anything that could be perceived to be an infringement on existing right holders IP was the right call to make. Short of CTY becoming some kind of crazy bestseller wouldn't take many hours of New York IP lawyer fees to decimate any money Howard might make on the book ;-)

    I hope you enjoy the book!

    P.S. I have never actually heard of anyone calling either island the "Big Island". Though South Islanders do regularly call the South Island "the Mainland"!

  92. Thank you for the link to the first chapter, Kara. I downloaded the sampler and read it last night.

    It was as good as I had hoped it would be after reading your blog post, and now I'm hooked.

    Please enter me in the draw for your crazy fabulous book.

  93. What a fun idea...your story sounds wonderful! And the covers are lovely. Thanks for writing this he post and having a giveaway.


  94. Kara,

    Loved this blog! Cannot figure out why setting a book in New Zealand is a bad thing - I'd read it. After all, NZ is on my wish list of places to visit. I think they aren't giving readers enough credit, but that's just me. I cannot write about another country as the only stamp on my passport thus far is England. So my stories are set in America - the coastal south to be exact.

    Best wishes to you and many best sellers in your future.

    Kimberly Absher

  95. Hi KK:

    I'm with you on your comment:

    "Cannot figure out why setting a book in New Zealand is a bad thing - I'd read it. After all, NZ is on my wish list of places to visit."

    New Zealand is on my most wanted list of places to visit.

    I really like to read stories set in other countries. I've asked Harlequin editors over the years why they don't do more foreign settings in all their lines since reading is a great way to vicariously travel and lead other lives.

    They have consistently told me that if I want international settings, I should read Presents -- their most popular line.

    This makes sense from a marketing POV. Harlequin sells subscriptions to many of their lines. Readers need to be confident that the stories they get, sight unseen, each month will be very much alike. You can't do that very well if you have foreign settings. Presents readers expect such settings.

    As far as other publishers, I think some of them follow what Harlequin does because that company is so big and successful. While there is nothing wrong with a story set in New Zealand, it will often not fit into the right marketing niche for many publishers.


  96. Congratulations on your debut book!!

    I agree with the others that said they liked a New Zealand setting. I really enjoy learning about other locations and cultures. I don't think a foreign setting has ever been a turn-off for me (and honestly the U.S. culture is so varied that if I read a book set in New England or the Deep South I am reading about a somewhat foreign setting anyway).

  97. Comment 100! I so get what you mean about comment anxiety. It can be a bit intimidating.

    As a american reader I personally prefer reading about other countries. While the publishing houses may say otherwise, I am so glad you went along with this idea. The book looks great. What an excellent reminder to try new things!

  98. I'm a day late reading and commenting but I loved your article! You write with great humor and both of my daughters love all things Tolkien!! I would like to visit your neck of the world someday and I'll add your books to my TBR list!

    Thanks again for sharing your writing/publishing journey,


  99. Hi Kara,
    I'm late too, but I so enjoyed your post. I can already tell I'll love your writing style!! Congrats and enjoy the crazy ride!

  100. Enjoyed your post and love your sense of humor, Kara!!

    Congrats on your books - the covers are beautiful, the unusual storylines are wonderful, I'd love to read your books!!

    Looking forward to meeting you in Nashville in August!! Please drop my name in the drawing for your book - thank you!!

  101. I love the covers on your books <3 Thank you for the chance :D

  102. Congratulations on your new release! How exciting and accomplishing anything with little ones is a special kind of victory! Way to go, mama!
    Pop my name in the drawing, I'd love to read your work!

  103. Hi, everyone. Thanks for all dropping by and all your well wishes. I've had a great day and loved meeting you all!