Sunday, August 21, 2011

Karen's Journey to Publication & What Inspires Her

Please share with us, Karen, your journey to publication.

I wrote my first book when I was ten years old. That was the summer my family was in Oklahoma (for my father’s job), and we discovered this abandoned old trailer with photographs all over the trashed floor. Both my sister (author Linda Derkez and I got a ton of ideas from looking at these pictures, speculating about who had lived there, what happened that they left all these photos behind. That was the summer I knew I was destined to be a writer. All those daydreams were about to pay off. I started brainstorming romances, thrillers, and mysteries in my head. By the time I was sixteen, I’d written almost a dozen books, short stories, and countless poems. Unofficially, I had my own fan club in high school and had a dozen publishing credits to my name (all poems).

Getting my fiction published was the hard part, and, ironically, I got so tired of the whole rejection thing, I’d just made the decision to quit writing for anyone but myself. I don’t remember whether it was a day or week after I made this decision that I received my first contract. Talk about turning a corner and coming face-to-face with a dream! In any case, my first novel (a romance) was finished published in June 1998 (I was 32). I’ve been on a roll since then.

My journey to publication with the Family Heirlooms Series started when Baby, Baby, Book 1, Shadow Boxing, Book 2, and Foolish Games, Book 3 were previously published by Samhain Publishing. When things didn’t work out the way I was hoping there, I took the whole series to Whiskey Creek Press, who bought all six books at once. Because my fans were waiting so long for Book 4, we decided to release Glass Angels first, then quickly re-issue the first three Books in the series in short order afterward. Book 1 was released in April 2011, Book 2 May 2011, and Book 3 July 2011. The final two books in the series, Shards of Ashley and Worlds Collide, will be released September 2011 and March 2012. Also look for the spin-off to my Family Heirlooms Series, the Friendship Heirlooms Series, with Clumsy Girl’s Guide to Falling in Love, Book 1 (inspirational romantic comedy/Chick-lit) and Michael’s Angel, Book 2 (inspirational romantic suspense).

What inspires you, Karen?

I’m a life-long learner. Every experience in my life—whether happy, painful, sad or horrible—leads me to the question of what I’ll learn from it. But I’m not an adventurer. I’m not an explorer. I prefer to live vicariously through my characters. Too much excitement makes me completely insane, and I have to come home and plug in there or I run down. I really was designed to be a writer for those reasons. In my writing, many things inspire me. People watching. Listening to people talk. Faces—not necessarily beautiful or perfect. Unusual stories. An alternate idea not explored in a novel or movie. Headlines. I was in church a few years ago, and a family had gone on a missionary trip for a week to help build a house for a needy family in Mexico. They shared their experiences, and I was instantly captivated. A story I’d had in mind took shape quickly based on this show-and-tell, and the outcome was Shadow Boxing, Book 2 of my Family Heirlooms Series (which was reissued in May 2011). Inspiration is everywhere—plucking it out, refining and “brewing” it in my mind for a long period of time is the easiest and most incredible part of being an author.

I just want to say I have a very healthy respect for you, Karen and all you've accomplished.  You're a wonderful writer and a great inspiration!  I wish you continued success!  Friends, don't forget to comment for a chance to win one of Karen's books.