This week I am delighted to welcome Karen King to my blog. Karen is a multi-published author of children’s books, YA and romantic fiction. She has had 120 children’s books published, two young adult novels, seven romantic novels and several short stories for women’s magazines. Take it away, Karen:
It sounds idyllic doesn’t it, to be a romance author living in Spain in a beautiful finca with lots of fruit trees and a swimming pool. You can imagine me sitting on a sunbed by the side of the pool, the sun shining, birds singing, reaching out for a grape from our very own grape vines (yes, really – and a selection of fruit and nut trees) but before you get too envious let me assure you that my life hasn’t always been like this. Although my first love has always been writing romance, it was a long and bumpy road before I got there. Let me tell you how it all began.
After a few months of the inevitable rejections I had an article accepted by Jackie magazine, this was way back in the 1980s. I was over the moon when they told me they’d like more articles and also asked me if I’d like to write some photo stories. Of course I said, yes, even though I’d never written a photo story before. I studied the photo stories in the magazine, wrote one up, and thankfully they liked it so I wrote more. I also wrote for other teenage magazines such as Loving and Patches and then sent a short story to Marvel aimed at one of their pre-school comics. They didn’t accept the story but asked me if I’d write a comic strip for a new title they had coming out called Acorn Green. I’d never written a comic strip before but figured it wouldn’t be too different from photo stories so said yes, asked for a couple of sample comic strips so I could see their house style, studied them, wrote one up and luckily they liked it so I was asked to write more comic strips and some short stories. Then I was approached by other magazine companies and ended up working for a range of titles, writing not only comic strips but activities, puzzles, quizzes and even a problem page. All because I kept saying ‘yes’, studying samples of each and having a go.
This gave me the confidence to approach Scholastic with an idea for an activity book, Christmas Fun, they liked it, gave me a contract and later commissioned me to write more activity books and joke books. Of course I said yes!
I approached other publishers to enquire if they needed any freelance writers for commissions and spent the next few years working for companies such as Puffin, Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins and others writing a variety of books including picture books, non-fiction, educational and even a selection of plays. All by saying ‘Yes’ and having a go. All the time though I really wanted to write romance books, but with a family to provide for I couldn’t afford to take the time off to write up a 75,000 word novel and send it out in the hope it would get published. I had to concentrate on work that would pay the bills and keep a roof over our head.
When my children were grown up I took my chance and wrote a romance novel called ‘Never Say Forever’. It was accepted by The People’s Friend for a pocket novel and then published in large print by Ulverscroft. I then wrote another romance novel titled ‘The Millionaire Plan’ which was almost accepted by Mills& Boon but then finally published, along with ‘Never Say Forever’ by a small US company, Astraea Press. I remarried and decided now was the time to try and make it as a romance novelist.
In 2014 I attended my first RNA conference and had a 1-2-1 with an editor who liked the synopsis of a story I had sent her and wanted to see the full. When I finished the story I sent it to her and to Accent Press. Accent Press replied within a couple of weeks that they wanted the story, my back- list romances and could I come up with ideas for two more stories. Suddenly I had a three book contract for romance novels. I was over the moon.
Then at the end of 2017, as I was about to move to Spain with my husband, an editor from Bookouture asked me if I would write for them. I had just finished my contract from Accent Press so was delighted to accept. Bookouture gave me a two book contract for the titles Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel and The Year of Starting Over. The Year of Starting Over is mainly set in Spain, and some of the experiences there are based on my own experiences, as we live in a finca in the campo and get our water from a well, just like Fiona and Pablo in the book, and like Holly I’m living my dream life in Spain. So you see, never be afraid to say ‘yes’ and have a go at something different, you never know where it will lead.😊
The Year of Starting Over
What if – to find yourself – you had to run away?
Last year was meant to be when Holly got her happy-ever-after. But stuck in a job that’s going nowhere, and a relationship that feels more like it’s going backwards… this year Holly has decided it’s time to change her life. She just has to:
– End the relationship with the commitment-phobic boyfriend
– Go on a proper adventure
– Learn to be herself again
– Definitely, categorically not fall in love.
Cramming her belongings into her little yellow Mini, Holly drives on to a ferry bound to Spain, to stay at a remote farmhouse near a beautiful village in the Andalusian hills.
But the day she arrives she nearly crashes her car into a gorgeous guy on a motorbike. He’s called Matias and their paths keep crossing, much to Holly’s irritation. Because as she learns to speak Spanish from the locals, finally starts laying out plans for her own design business, and sips sangria in the sunlit village square, Holly is beginning to remember who she is and what she wants.
So she won’t allow herself to be distracted by Matias. Because this year – for Holly – there are more important things in life than love. And she won’t let yet another bad relationship ruin everything… will she?
A moving and uplifting romantic comedy about living each moment and learning to trust yourself again, for fans of Jenny Hale, Debbie Macomber, and Sophie Kinsella.