Monday, October 1, 2012

Meant To Be Book Tour & Giveaway with Karen Stivali


Today we're chatting it up with Author Karen Stivali! Welcome Karen!

BK: Please tell us a little about yourself...

I’m a chocoholic. And a compulsive baker (it calms me down and I get to eat the results). I have a serious weakness for men with British accents (especially fictional ones as they are much more likely to say all the right things). Insomnia has plagued me since I was a kid but I’ve learned to enjoy it---I do most of my writing at night when the house is quiet. When I’m not writing I….wait a minute, I’m always writing. My desk is in the kitchen so even when I’m cooking or paying bills or answering the phone, odds are I’m still writing, or editing, or at least scribbling notes about story ideas in my little red leather idea book. If I really take a break from writing you’ll either find me hanging out with friends or curled up watching a movie. I love movies. They’re a great escape when words and the real world become too much.

BK: Please tell us a little about your book....

Meant To Be is a friends-to-lovers tale with a bit of a twist. It’s a love story. It’s very romantic, but not in a traditional romance sort of way. I think the blurb explains why… (I’m going to insert the blurb but if you need to put the blurb elsewhere in the post you can delete it here)

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.


BK: What inspired you to pen this particular novel?

I was thinking about how people change over time and drift in and out of one another’s lives. I’d read the saying “people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime” and I realized that you never really know who’s there for which of those purposes. People you think will be in your life forever can wind up actually being there for a very short time. Others who you think you’ll probably only know briefly--- a co-worker, a neighbor--- may end up being significant in your life forever. That’s the premise of Meant To Be--- you never know who your “lifetime” people will be.


BK: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have always considered myself a writer. I started writing stories pretty much as soon as I learned to write words. When did I first consider myself a “real” writer? That’s a harder question. I thought it was when I finished my first novel, but that wasn’t it. Then I thought it was when I started submitting that novel (Meant To Be, actually) to agents and publishers. That wasn’t it either. When I got my first rejection letter (and many more) it seemed like maybe THAT was the definition of a real writer. Not so much. First offer? No. First contract? You’d think, but not really. First release date? Still not really. It’s hard to explain, but when you want something so much for so long and it finally happens it’s surreal. It doesn’t feel as real as you think it will and nothing is the be-all-end-all you think it will be. I still get the same panicky feeling when I have books out on submission now that I did when I submitted my first one. And it’s still just as big a rush to get a contract on a new project. I’ve been very lucky in my journey to publication. I’ve signed 8 contracts in the past 17 months. I couldn’t have even dreamt that was possible 2 years ago. But does it make me a “real” writer? I hope so, but I still just feel like I did when I was 5 years old and penning my first words: I have stories in my head and I want to tell them.

BK: How do you keep your story flowing?

When I come up with story ideas I usually see them, full-scale, in my mind, from conception. I can’t start writing until I have the whole story arc in mind, so I know where the characters start out, what happens along the way and where they’ll be in the end. That’s enough to keep the story flowing because I always know where they’re headed. I just have to show how they get there.

BK: Do you ever run into writer's block, and if so, what do you do to get past it?

When I have writer’s block it usually means I haven’t had enough time to focus on the story or get to know the characters. To get past it I’ll either work on something else where I’m more comfortable or I’ll spend some time not writing and just think about what my story is. I imagine the characters talking and listen to them, then I write down what they say.


BK: What is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks, or must-haves to write?

My writing process is pretty flexible. I write whenever and wherever I can. As far as quirks, I have two: I can’t write a scene unless I’ve watched it play out in my head, like a movie and, because of that quirk, when a scene plays in my head I have to write it down right away, or I risk forgetting it. This has led to my writing scenes on the back of receipts I’ve dug out of my purse while I’m waiting on line at the grocery store and has on many occasions dragged me out of bed at 4AM. At one point during the writing of Meant To Be the scenes were playing out so often that I left my laptop on 24 hours a day so my middle-of-the-night writing emergencies wouldn’t be delayed by having to wait for my laptop to start! Not very environmentally friendly of me (sorry!) but I never forgot a scene.

BK: Where do you hope your books/writing will be in the future?

My only hope is the same as it’s always been. I want my books to be in the hands of people who enjoy them. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from a reader who fell in love with my characters, or was moved to tears, or laughed out loud, or simply can’t get my story out of their mind. Those are the things I hope will happen with all of my books.

BK: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

As a reader my favorite experience is coming away from a book and feeling like I know the characters personally. I hope readers will take that away from my books, that they’ll finish and feel like they’ve just spent time getting to know new friends.

BK: What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?

Follow your heart. Write the story you want to write. I try to do that with every story I write. If I’m not in love with the story and my characters, I can’t expect anyone else to be.

BK: What is one piece of advice you would give to new and aspiring writers?

Keep writing and never give up. That sounds like two pieces of advice, but they’re related. Writing isn’t easy. There are a million opportunities to stop. There’s always other stuff that needs to be done and there are days when all writers feel like “Oh my God, what am I doing? Is anyone ever even going to read this?” That’s normal. It’s part of the process. You have to push through that and keep writing. If you keep going back and revising a project before it’s even finished, you may never finish it, so you have to plow through until it’s done. Then you go back and edit it. Then get feedback and edit it again. And again. And again. And when it’s really done and you start submitting it places you have to start all over with a new project. You can’t wait to see what happens with one book. The publishing world moves too slowly for that. Write your next story, and your next. That way if you do get an offer from someone and they say “what else are you working on?” you have a great answer. And if you don’t get an offer on the original project, you’re well on your way to having a new one to try submitting. That’s where the never give up part comes in---keep writing, keep submitting, don’t give up.

BK: Are you currently working on any new projects? What can we expect from you in the future?

I am currently writing two new novels. They’re both contemporary romances with very different takes on the friends-to-lovers theme. I also just signed a contract with Samhain Publishing on a contemporary romance that will be out spring/summer 2013. It’s a second-chance-with-an-old-crush story that takes place at a beach house (just in time for beach read season!).

My next release is actually coming November 26, 2012. It’s Holding On, the sequel to Meant To Be. It can be read as a standalone book, but if you read Meant To Be, Holding On will tell you what happens next. Holding On begins one year after Meant To Be ends.


Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. It's been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.

About the Book:


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.




Meant to Be is available from:


EXCERPT 1:

Daniel stopped and stared at the chocolate as it cascaded into the red enameled pot. He hadn’t realized quite how much he missed having dessert. Justine never kept sweets in the house, saying they were too much of a temptation. Other than the occasional candy bar he grabbed between classes or on his ride home Daniel almost never ate anything sugary anymore. The sight of the chocolate, creamy and inviting, made his mouth water.

“I forgot the marshmallows,” Marienne said, as she placed the spoon back into the bowl.

“I’ll get them,” Daniel said, hands extended, offering to take the bowl back into the kitchen for her.

“Thanks.” She handed it over. “And yes, you can lick the bowl.”

He laughed. It was like she’d read his mind.

He headed into the kitchen and was standing at the counter, licking the chocolate-covered spoon, when he heard someone behind him. He turned to see Marienne smirking at him.

“You look very at home licking a big spoonful of chocolate. I take it this is not your first time.”

“Hardly. My mum baked all the time and I was the official spoon and bowl licker. Good work if you can get it.”

“I know. Frank’s not big on desserts, so I’m usually the one left to clean out the bowls.”

“Well, I live right there.” He pointed toward his house with the now clean spoon. “And I’m available for all sorts of baking bowl emergencies.”

The Author:


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, will be published by Turquoise Morning Press on August 26, 2012.   Its sequel, Holding On, will be 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).

For more information about my current and upcoming projects please visit my website: http://karenstivali.com

I can also be found on:


There will be a $25 Amazon Gift Card awarded to one lucky commenter from the tour. Follow..Comment..
WIN!!
October 1:  BK Walker Books Etc.
October 2:   Momof2BookReviews
October 3:  Night Owl Reads
October 3:  STOP 2  It's Raining Books
October 4:  REVIEW ONLY Reviews by Molly
October 4:  You Gotta Read Reviews - Guest
October 5:  Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
October 5:  STOP 2  My Odd Little World 
Goddess Fish Partner
Reactions:

11 comments:

BK said...

Thanks for chatting today Karen :)

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Karen today.

MomJane said...

I really loved the cover. The story sounds really awesome. I know that things like this happen, I just hope that it all ends with a HEA.

ad0ffae6-78f6-11e1-8cde-000bcdcb5194 said...

I'm a compulsive baker, too (though this week I've been a compulsive ice cream maker). The book looks great!

vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

David M. Brown said...

Great interview Karen.

Wishing you the very best with Meant to Be and future books :)

Karen Stivali said...

Thanks for the comments and the good wishes! All my books have happy endings---there's enough tragedy in real life. For those interested in homemade ice cream, I've started making ice cream lately and will be posting recipes on my blog (pumpkin maple ice cream will be the first, sometime in the next week). Thanks for taking time to leave a message! :)

Kassandra Fuentes said...

Thank you for being a part of Meant To Be blog tour :D! I loved the interview and the excerpt. Can't wait to read this amazing book.

Chrysrawr said...

"people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime"
It is sad when you have a lot of value for someone, and at the end of the day, they did not for you.

(I am also a compulsive baker. I will be making my first apple pie next week. :O)

chrysrawr@yahoo.com

Karen Stivali said...

Thanks again for all the comments. Hope you'll visit at my blog and let me know if you've tried any of my recipes or read any of my books. Enjoy! And thanks for hosting me on my tour!

(BTW, all of my books have HEA endings---just because I don't always right classical romance novels doesn't mean I don't believe in happy endings. Can't write a book without a happy ending.) Cheers!

Mary Preston said...

It's been my experience that fictional male characters are much better with their words htan the real kind. I had to laugh.

MEANT TO BE looks wonderful.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Susie Welker said...

Thanks for sharing
kybunnies(at)gmail(dot)com