Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic love stories filled with sarcasm and sexy details.
Karen has published three erotic romances with Ellora’s Cave: Marry Me (June 2012), Long-Distance Lovers (co-written with Karen Booth, March 2012), and Always You (Passionate Plume First Place Novella Winner, RWA 2012).
Karen’s first full-length novel, Meant To Be, released from Turquoise Morning Press on August 26, 2012. Its sequel, Holding On, released on November 26, 2012. A prequel to these novels, the short story All I Need, appears in the Foreign Affairs Anthology (Turquoise Morning Press, August 2012).
Coming in 2013, Karen will have several contemporary romances releasing from Samhain Publishing and Turquoise Morning Press. The first of these, Then Again will release from Samhain on May 23, 2013.
Guest Post by Karen StivaliWhen I wrote Meant To Be I saw the whole story in my head, beginning, middle and end. I knew what was going to happen to the characters, how they were going to grow close as friends, how they'd fall in love without even realizing what was happening. The story that plays out between Daniel and Marienne is a one of friendship, love, acceptance and longing. It's one long prelude to a kiss.
I knew from the start that they would have a happily ever after ending and when I wrote it I felt so relieved. I wanted their happiness. As a writer I needed to give it to them. Then I started submitting their story for publication. It's a nerve-wracking process, submitting a book to agents and publishers. There's a lot of waiting for answers. There are rejection letters that don't tell you what you did wrong. Possibly worse, there are rejection letters saying how much the reader liked your book but it just wasn't what he/she was looking for at that time.
It was November 2010 and after two months of hopeful replies, rejections and more waiting ahead, I knew I had to do something or I was going to lose my mind. I'd always wanted to try NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November and is a group of people who each commit to trying to write 50k words of a novel in that one month's time). I had a few different ideas in my head but the story that wouldn't stop talking to me was Holding On. Even though I'd devoted an entire book to Daniel and Marienne, I wasn't done telling their story. So I did the one thing writers are told never to do---I wrote a sequel to a book I had yet to place. Writing Holding On was exactly what I needed. For the first time in months the words were pouring out of me. And, to be, honest, I'd missed Daniel and Marienne. I needed to follow them on another journey and take them further through their lives. By the end of November I'd written nearly 60k words of their story. (As a bit of trivia, Holding On was not the original title of this book, the working NaNo title was "The Professor and Marienne." You'll see why if you read Meant To Be.)
As luck would have it when I got an offer to contract Meant To Be several months later, one of the first things the publisher asked me was "Do you ever see yourself writing a sequel to this book?" I was able to say I pretty much already had. She asked for the first few chapters, and within a few weeks I had a contract on Holding On as well.
So, if any writers out there have characters that they believe they're just not done with, my advice is write them. Tell their story. A lot of people thought I was crazy to be writing a whole other book about Daniel and Marienne while Meant To Be was still just making the rounds, but I'm so glad I did it. I stayed true to my characters, and I wrote what I wanted to write. I'll forever be thankful to NaNoWriMo for giving me the push I needed to accomplish that. And I'm so glad I wrote the rest of Daniel and Marienne's story.
Not that that's the end for them. I've had several readers who've asked if we'll see more Daniel and Marienne and my answer is two-fold. First, I don't know that I'll ever be able to say I'm truly done writing them. They're a part of my life, and I adore them both, and they're only in their early 30s---they have a whole lifetime ahead, and I'm willing to bet some of that lifetime will make it onto paper in the future. In addition to that I already know for a fact that they'll appear in a related book. Daniel's ex-wife, Justine, who is in both Meant To Be and Holding On undergoes a rather dramatic life experience at the end of Holding On. Justine will be getting a book that tells her story and Daniel and Marienne will most definitely be making guest appearances in Just In Time (due out from Turquoise Morning Press 1/26/14).
And, if you've read both of these books and still want more Daniel and Marienne, you can read about them in two anthologies. The short story All I Need (in the Foreign Affairs Antholoy by Turquoise Morning Press) tells about how a young Daniel wound up marrying Justine in the first place. And a second short White Wedding, in an upcoming wedding anthology will tell the tale of Daniel and Marienne's nuptials. That anthology is due to release in June 2013 (also from Turquoise Morning Press).
To read an interview with Karen, click here.
To read an excerpt from Meant To Be, click here.
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