Sunday, December 16, 2012

Karen Stivali Q&A + Review

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Karen Stivali VBT. Today I have an interview with Karen and a review of her book, Meant To Be.

Hi Karen, and welcome to the blog!

Tell me about yourself, and your writing.

How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?
I’ve been writing since I first learned how, in first grade. I started writing more seriously, and made the decision to actually pursue getting published only a few years ago, while I was writing Meant To Be. I currently have six stories published and contracts on another five. All in the past year and a half. It still amazes me that that’s true. The genres vary from erotic romance to women’s fiction to contemporary romance.

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
I write in three genres and I don’t think I will ever stray from those three. All of my stories, regardless of which genre they fall into, are love stories and take place in modern times. I don’t have any desire to write outside that arena. While all of my books have sex in them, the heat level and the frequency of the sex scenes varies from genre to genre. Some stories merit a higher level of description or have a greater focus on sex than others. The reason I opted to write different genres using just the one name instead of having different pen names for each genre is that there is really a strong similarity between my stories.

Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?
Both. I plot first, but only in my head. I have to see the story play out in my mind, like a movie. But once I sit down to write I tend to pants. I write what I see and hear and sometimes that goes unexpected places. Basically I let the characters show and tell me their story and I just write it all down. I never outline or chart or plan out chapters.

What is a typical writing day like for you?
Every day is a writing day for me. I get up, check email, answer messages/Tweets/comments/etc that have accumulated in the few hours I’ve been away from the computer. Then I spend the rest of the day going back and forth between writing and editing and taking care of other responsibilities. I tend to write well into the night, after my house is quiet, and often get the most done then, but I’ll sneak in writing any spare moment I get all day long. I don’t need a specific atmosphere or location to write. Sometimes my best ideas come to me at the most inconvenient times, like in the middle of cooking dinner or, more often, while I’m in the shower. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten out of the shower and stood wrapped in a towel trying not to drip all over a piece of paper while I scribble out a scene that’s just played out in my head. When that happens if I don’t get it down right away I forget nuances and then I’m not satisfied with  the scene. I learned the hard way that when I see it clearly I need to write it down right away before it loses its potency.

Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?
I love to read character-heavy stories. My favorite novel of all time is Anton Myrer’s The Last Convertible. I read it for the first time when I was fourteen and I’ve reread it dozens of times since. It’s a story that spans several decades of the lives of five young men who met their Freshman year at Harvard, right at the start of World War II. It takes the reader on a journey through their lives and the lives of the women they meet/love/marry/leave. You finish reading it and it’s as if you’ve known them all forever. I adore that kind of story.

What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I have several new releases due out in the next year and I’m really excited about all of them. I’ve been so lucky with my publishing career I’m reluctant to even speculate about what more I’d like to accomplish. I’m very happy with (and thankful for) the path I’m on and I hope to just keep moving forward on it.

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
I’d love to be able to read minds. I always want to know what everyone’s thinking. Although I’d like to have the option of turning that ability on and off. I’d want to be able to use it only when I felt like it.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
Can I have a pleasant house elf, like Dobby from Harry Potter? I’d treat him well, I promise, I could just use the extra help around the house.

Tell us a little about your latest release.
My latest release is Holding On. It’s a sequel to my novel Meant To Be. While Meant To Be explores how Daniel and Marienne meet, become friends and fall in love, Holding On is the story of what their life is like as a couple. I think the log lines for the two books sum them up perfectly. Meant To Be: Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one. And Holding On: When you have everything you ever dreamed of, the hard part is holding on.

What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)
Chocolate. And the internet is a close second.

Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?
Not only could I, I already have! My critique partner Karen Booth and I co-authored the erotic romance novel Long-Distance Lovers. We came up with the storyline together and decided she’d write all the female character’s point of view scenes and I’d write all the guy’s point of view scenes. We wrote the whole book in just a few weeks. Every time one of us wrote a scene we’d send it to the other and write the next scene. It worked great! As critique partners we were already so familiar with each other’s style it was easy to mesh everything together. It was a lot of fun to write as a team.
My co-author and I recently attended the annual conference sponsored by the publisher of Long-Distance Lovers (Ellora’s Cave’s Romanticon Conference) and we got to meet, hang out and dance with the cover model for our novel. That was also fun. A whole different kind of fun! And a perk we never expected when we wrote the book together.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?
The first thing that popped into my head is my dad. He passed away six years ago and there’s nothing I’d like more than to be able to spend even an hour with him and tell him about my books. My dad was a total book fiend and I definitely got my love of books from him. He’d be so happy to know that I finally decided to pursue writing professionally.
I’m pretty sure you meant someone famous, though. And I’m honestly not sure who I’d pick, but no matter who it was I know what I’d do. I’d cook a huge meal. I love cooking for people. It relaxes me and usually relaxes them and then, while we ate, I’d just talk to them. I’m not a big fan of asking questions, I prefer to just talk to people and let them open up when they’re ready. People generally tell me that I’m easy to talk to and am a good listener (probably why I made a good therapist back when I was one). I’d probably choose someone from the classic days of Hollywood, like Montgomery Clift or Marilyn Monroe. Not sure though. I think anyone can make for an interesting dinner partner if you can get them to open up and tell you about their experiences. I just like to talk to people, period.

What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
Cooking and baking. I’ve always loved food and anything cooking-related. I find it very relaxing to bake and, as I just said, I actually derive a good deal of pleasure from feeding people. None of my friends or family members have a problem with this, at all. It’s a win-win situation---I cook, they eat, everyone’s content.

If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
If you mean one of my books, I’d pick Meant To Be. I majored in film and television production in college and before I started writing Meant To Be I considered writing it as a screenplay instead of a novel. Once I started writing, though, it was clear to me that it needed to be a book. I’d love to turn it into a movie though. My writing process if very visual so I can already see it as a film.
If you mean someone else’s book I would love to see Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners stories (The Siren, The Angel, The Prince and The Mistress) turned into a TV series. I love the character development in her stories and the intricate plot lines and twists. It would make a spellbinding series for a network like HBO or FX.

What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?
I’d like to be able to sing and I have absolutely no ability to do so. None. I played piano for two decades, I have a good ear for music and a good sense of rhythm, but singing? Not the slightest bit of talent.

Favorite color?
Garnet red. I love jewel tones---rich, deep colors. I’m not a pastel gal.

Weather: Hot or cold?
In spite of the fact that I’m one of those people who tends to always feel cold even when everyone else is comfortable or warm, I actually prefer cold weather to hot. In cold weather you can always bundle up and do things to get warm. When it’s really uncomfortably hot you’re just stuck being hot. Plus the heat tends to make me feel cranky and light-headed. If I had my total choice though, I’d go with the goldie-locks answer---I’d want the weather  not too hot, not too cold, just right.

Favorite place to read?
I have no idea. I do most of my reading at my kitchen desk but I love to read just about anywhere---in the car, in a cafĂ©, in bed, in the tub. I’ll read anywhere!

Favorite meal
The foods I crave tend to vary a lot by mood. Sometimes I like really elegant meal and other times all I want is a pizza or chicken wings. I have a hard time choosing just one thing to eat so I love elaborate brunch buffets where I can sample a little bit of a ton of different things all in one meal.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink.
Sweet tea. Which is probably a weird answer seeing as I’m not a southerner. I drink water most of the time, but if I have something other than water I prefer either sweet tea or very sweet iced coffee (with cream). Once in a while I’ll get the urge for a Pepsi with lots of crushed ice, but that’s something I probably only drink once a year. I’m wired enough, caffeine is the last thing I need!

If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?
Could I time travel? Or at least teleport? Because I don’t enjoy the act of traveling---I hate being stuck in traffic, I’m not a fan of flying and other drivers tend to make me jittery. If I could just blink myself somewhere, like Jeannie, I’d travel all the time and go all over the world. I’ve traveled through Europe and absolutely loved it. I’ve never been to Australia but I have several friends who live there and it’s someplace I’ve always wanted to see. And I’d love to pop in on the past as long as I could blink myself back in time to check my email.

MEANT TO BE BLURB: Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss.


REVIEW:  Between the changes in life, sometimes an unexpected romance blooms where one least expects it... Meant to Be is not your normal romantic story. There's so many layers to this book that goes beyond a romance. it's really a story about life, love, loss, friendships, changes, and emotional feelings. 

Marienne and Daniel have already found their life partners...or so they thought. When life begins to test these marriages, so many facts come out of hiding, so many truths revealed, and feelings are admitted.  Both Marienne and Daniel must come to terms with where they are in life and love while they try to sort their marriages out. The two become fast friends, have a lot in common, and come to rely on one another for a good ear.

Meant to Be is very different, but has a raw honesty. This situation could easily happen to anyone in life, and the author portrays this situation into light, and shows the reader that there may still be a chance for a true happily ever after, after all.

Author Bio:    

Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies and fictional British men. When she’s not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends. Prior to deciding to write full time Karen worked as a hand drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what’s left of her time and sanity.
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.

Connect with Karen!

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1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to see how the story continues in book # 2!