Category Archives: Monday Musings

Karen’s Killer Book Bench: MACKENZIE’S DISTRACTION by Angie Dokos #NewAdultRomance #recipe ~ Sweet Potato Crunch

 読書KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!

Continue reading Karen’s Killer Book Bench: MACKENZIE’S DISTRACTION by Angie Dokos #NewAdultRomance #recipe ~ Sweet Potato Crunch

Monday Musings: Karen Docter’s birthday book giveaway….

Dear readers!

My birthday is coming up in almost a week so, to celebrate, I’m going to give one lucky reader a present! Beginning with today’s Monday Musings, through Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench,  and ending with Karen’s Killer Fixin’s blog on Friday, readers who comment will have a chance to win a digital (PDF) copy of my Valentine’s Day release, SATIN PLEASURES.  Comment on all three blogs for three chances to win! (Only one comment per  blog, please!)  I will announce the winner at 6 p.m. (CMT) on my birthday Sunday, March 18th.  Good luck!

If you enjoy series contemporary author, Janet Evanovich, you’re in for a treat with this tender, cute, and spicy story….


Back Cover Blurb

Bustiers, Birds, and the Blues…

Dan McDonald walked away from the American dream, a life full of money, glamorous women and power. Now nothing can lure him back into the corporate death trap. Except….

Dan’s scheming aunt snares him into opening a lingerie shop in Tess Emory’s shopping mall. Tess is everything Dan has vowed to avoid…sexy, smart, and obsessed with work.

Tess is determined to make her life a success and right the wrongs of her past, no matter the cost.

They’re both going to discover that true love breaks all their rules.


Copyright 2012 by Karen Docter


Chapter One

“Colby, if I’d had that brunette in my bass boat instead of you Aunt Mary would never have talked me off the lake.” Dan McDonald tore his gaze away from the view in the truck windshield to grin at his dog, affectionately named Colby, after the cheese the German shepherd loved so much. “Bet she doesn’t kiss like you…the brunette, I mean, not Aunt Mary.”

The dog whined, then attempted to wriggle his massive bulk into his master’s lap. Dan pushed his muzzle away. “Phew! Chances are she doesn’t smell like you, either.”

Colby bared his teeth in a grin.

Dan laughed. “You won’t think it’s so funny when we reach San Francisco and you get a bath.” He considered the stalled traffic. “That’s assuming we get across the bay.”

A fully loaded semi had jackknifed across both lanes of the westbound bridge and wedged in tighter than a cork in a genie’s bottle. The truck was to be dismantled for removal, the freight unloaded, and there appeared to be a debate as to which part of the process should be completed first.

He smiled at the speed with which the shock wave of information ran down the line of commuters. Many spilled from their cars to chat. A few lounged on their hoods, faces raised to the warm March afternoon sun. A pair of students in Stanford jerseys zipped a fluorescent orange Frisbee between the cars with all the ferocity of Kamikaze pilots.

Dan shook his head when he realized he’d pushed his old life behind him far enough to find amusement in the scene. He’d come a long way in the past year. Was it far enough? He’d been happy—well, content enough—with his solitary lifestyle…until his aunt tracked him down in Florida a couple of weeks ago.

She’d convinced him she and his mother needed him in California through June. However, he’d had three thousand miles to wonder if his temporary return to the rat race might prove to be the biggest mistake of his life. His impulse to turn the truck around had grown with each passing mile and he wondered if this traffic snarl was his last chance to save himself.

He certainly couldn’t complain about his first glimpse of San Francisco Bay. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The sun stirred bright color into the murky waves and streaked light across mirrored office buildings on the opposite shoreline. A light, salty breeze gave wing to a variety of raucous sea birds over his head and teased long tendrils of toffee-rich hair out of his brunette’s French twist.

His brunette.

Desire coiled deep in his gut as he watched her wiggle her bottom onto the hood of her car. With one hand resting on the driver’s side mirror on the open door, she

talked briskly into her phone, her expression hidden behind sunglasses. The straight lemon skirt and fitted jacket she wore accentuated her rich, dark hair, full breasts, and slender waist. Spiked heels showcased legs long enough to fuel a man’s fantasies for months. Her hand waving in emphasis to whatever point she was making spoke to Dan of urgent caresses and wild passion.

The blend of cool professionalism and hot sensuality fostered the illusion a man only had to peel away one layer to expose the passionate woman beneath. He’d never seen a woman who made him feel so needy, so primitive, with barely one look…which is why he hadn’t bothered to pursue a woman since Charlotte Betham opted for her career over him last year. He might have made an effort to change her mind if she’d turned his crank this way!

Only a caveman would dream of ripping the phone from his lady’s hand. Only a cretin would throw it into the bay before he dragged her away to his cave for a year or two. Only a sex-starved man would allow such idiotic impulses to get out of hand.

“Maybe Aunt Mary dragged us back to civilization in time.” Dan scratched behind his dog’s ears. “Maybe I should go out on a date or two while we’re here. Take the edge off.”

Colby barked, and then rested his muzzle on the dashboard, pointing the way.

“No, it won’t be with my sexy brunette.”

The last thing Dan needed in his life was another career woman to tempt him back to the competitive edge like the one he’d ridden in Chicago. He’d leaped off that fast track without a backward glance—nearly dying did have a way of changing a man’s perspective, after all—but he could still spot a workaholic when he saw one. He’d lived with one all his life. First, his father. More recently, Charlotte and himself. And since he didn’t know yet if he’d beaten that particular inclination, once and for all, he wasn’t taking any chances.

The odd thing about chance, though, was the way it tended to come up and slap him when he wasn’t looking. Dan stared with consternation at the bright orange saucer veering out of control across his vision, aimed directly for his brunette. “Watch out!”

He jumped from the truck in time to see the rigid plastic disc slam into her right cheek with a sharp thwack, angle over her head and disappear over the bridge railing into the bay. Her cell sailed right behind it.

Dan sprinted in her direction but she’d fallen off the hood of her car and slumped to the pavement, her back settling against the front fender before he could reach her. Kneeling, he placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you all right?”

She didn’t respond.

“I didn’t mean to hit her!” The Frisbee thrower squatted next to Dan and watched him remove her cracked sunglasses. “Oh, man, she’s out cold.”

Dan clamped a lid on his own spike of concern and thrust both hands into the woman’s silky twist of hair. In the time it took him to run from his truck he’d seen her fall against the side mirror on her downward slide, and then ram her head against the open car door. So, it came as no surprise when he located a sizable lump over her left ear.

He examined the welt rising on her cheekbone, his curse short, succinct. Her head cradled in his hands, he brushed his thumbs against her temples. “Can you hear me?”

The woman’s eyelids fluttered, lifted. “W-What happened? H-Harry? Where’s Harry?”

Who the devil was Harry? Dan gazed into cinnamon brown eyes fogged with confusion and experienced a surprising surge of possessiveness. He couldn’t drag his hands away from her fast enough. “If Harry’s the one on the phone, I believe he’s now conferencing with the sharks.”

“Oh. Oh! He’ll kill me!” She shifted, wrinkled her nose in obvious bewilderment at the sight of her legs stretched in front of her. “Why am I sitting on the ground?”

The student piped in. “My Frisbee hit you. You fell.”

“Frisbee? Fell?”

Dan frowned. A concussion wasn’t out of the question. Although her pupils didn’t appear unequal or dilated, there was a large goose egg behind her ear and a welt across her cheek that grew more red and ugly by the minute. He searched his brain for the standard questions used on concussion victims. “What’s your name, and who’s the President?”

“Tess Emory, and Stuart Webster.”

“One out of two isn’t bad,” he murmured. For all he knew, Tess Emory wasn’t her name either.

“Oh, man, she doesn’t know—”

Dan glared the student into silence, motioning the kid to her other side so they could both help her to her feet. “Which is which?” he asked, aware he needed to keep her talking.

“I’m Tess.” She wobbled on her spiked heels. “The president’s Webster.”

Dan quickly calculated the distance to the camper in the back of his truck. “I think we have a problem. Webster is not President of the United States.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh. Wait. I thought you meant the president of my company!” She assured him she did indeed know her country’s president. “Now I know two presidents’ names and my own, but I don’t know your names.”

The student introduced himself and apologized for her injuries. He wanted to share his doctor’s phone number but, when she refused his assistance, he shrugged and walked off to rejoin his buddy sitting on the hood of their car.

Which left Dan where he shouldn’t be now that the danger had passed…overwhelmed by the appeal of toffee hair, cinnamon eyes, and spicy scent. Gasping for air like a wide-mouth bass in the bottom of his boat. Alone…with his brunette.

“And,” she said, “your name?”

“Daniel McDonald.” His fingers itched for more contact with her satiny skin, if only to shake her hand. He opted to tuck his hands in his pocket instead. “Now, you know five.”

“Five what?”

“Names. Two presidents, yours, mine, and Frisbee Killer over there.” He nodded at the student. “That makes five.”

“Six. You forgot Harry.”

As far as he was concerned, Harry could commune forever with the sea anemones. However, the reminder of this woman’s single-mindedness also tempered Dan’s lingering response to her. Not that he appreciated it. “Why did you say he’ll kill you?”

“That’s his phone resting at the bottom of the bay. I don’t imagine he’s too pleased thinking I hung up on him, either.” Tess tentatively touched her cheek, winced. “I need to call him back. May I borrow your phone?”

“I don’t have it on me,” he said thinking of where he’d last seen it. To break his final connection with the world he’d left behind, he’d tossed the phone into a storage box along with everything else. “Let’s take care of your injuries first.” Dan eyed the welt marring her delicate skin, the bruise already forming on her cheekbone. “How bad does that feel?”

“The way my head’s pounding, I guess I’m lucky to feel anything.” She peered at her face in her damaged side view mirror. “Sweet mercy, I’ve got a meeting in twenty minutes! I can’t go in there looking like this!”

Dan hated to burst her bubble. “I heard on the radio it might be a couple of hours before this accident is cleaned up.”

“Please,” Tess straightened, “tell me you’re joking.”

The haunted look shadowing her eyes was familiar. He’d seen it in the mirror, millions of years ago, before he came to his senses and dumped his stressful career, pristine penthouse, and empty lifestyle. This woman was wound entirely too tight. It was only a matter of time before she snapped under the strain. “I’m sorry. We’re stuck here until further notice.”

“I’ve got six suits waiting for me.” She threaded her fingers through her hair and yanked pins out, stuffing them into her jacket pocket with all the intensity of a search-and-destroy mission. “I can’t be stuck here!”

He was surprised when she punctuated the last word with a stamp of her foot, and even more intrigued by the flush which bloomed under her skin when she realized what she’d done. He’d known his share of businesswomen with tempers, but businesswomen who blushed?

“I can’t believe I did that,” she said, faintly.

Bending over he quickly picked up her heel, snapped off her right shoe in her flash of temper, and then arched an eyebrow at her. “I’d be happy to jump up and down, too, if you think it would help.”

Tess ducked her head on a small laugh. “Thanks for the offer, Mr. McDonald. I don’t think that’s necessary.”

“Daniel.” He barely touched her palm when he laid the heel in her hand, and a blast of sensual heat struck him so hard he nearly groaned out loud. “Call me Dan,” his voice rough, “since we appear to be neighbors.”

She looked in the direction he indicated where his pickup camper sat in the next

lane. “Welcome to the neighborhood.”

“Thanks. I think I’ll like this one.” He hadn’t reached San Francisco yet but, if Tess was representative of the women he’d find there, he was going to be one happy camper for the next three months.

No!  He reeled in his runaway hormones.  You’re going to be pretty damned lonely.  No workaholics, remember?

As if able to read the rejection on his face, she looked away toward the wide, open space of the bay beyond the bridge. Then, she pressed a trembling hand to her forehead and swallowed convulsively. “You’ll have to excuse me. I need…to lie down. I feel diz—” Her knees buckled.

Monday Musings: “I Quit” slugs it out with “Persistence”….

MONDAY MUSINGS: “I Quit” slugs it out with “Persistence”….

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist. ~ Isaac Asimov ~~~~

I quit! These were the words I wrote in my now defunct monthly newsletter (I do enjoying blogging more often) back in the summer of 2010. Oh, I wasn’t talking about not writing any more. In fact, after rereading the newsletter today, I have to say the sentiments and goals I shared then haven’t changed. Thank goodness!

I thought it might be fun today for you to read my original newsletter article. Then, I’ll share what I’ve learned and how far I’ve come in the past year and a half.  So pour a glass or cup of your favorite beverage and settle in because this trip down memory lane might be a tad longer than my usual Musings. (The trip is worth it though!)

It was the summer of 2010…

I quit! The sentiment has been on my mind a lot recently. No. I won’t quit writing, although I will admit I considered it…for about 2 nanoseconds. The moment the thought escaped its bounds, my brain stood up, pushed its way to the bully pulpit and shouted in my head, “Hi! My name is Karen Docter, and I’m addicted to writing. It’s been six months, four days and ten minutes since I last wrote my last full chapter! ”

Yeah, not only is my brain entirely too independent for my peace of mind but it’s stubborn as well. It’s a good thing we do love to write together. Most of the time. 🙂

For those who don’t know me well, I’ve been at this awhile. This meaning working toward a career in writing. Awhile translates to when I joined RWA in the latter part of 1991. That’s when I began to think my writing could become my career. Who doesn’t want to make a living out of something we love? I wish we all had the ability to get paid to do what makes us happiest. The world might be a better place!

Sorry. I digress.

And that’s what this Musing is all about. I wish I could say I’ve been walking hand-in-hand with Persistence during all of those intervening years. I did well until after the new millennium kicked in. I was writing traditional and short contemporary full time. I had seven books under my belt and had generated interest in my writing with New York and Canadian editors, even if the projects weren’t quite what were needed at the time. I can write well. I even had an agent who believed in my projects as much as I did.

Then I got hit with several whammies. The publishing lines toward which I’d aimed my projects kept shutting down, forcing me to evaluate my goals and my genre. My agent closed her doors around the same time. I started a personal relationship with debilitating medical issues. My writing hit a long dry spell. While many authors can write through anything, I discovered my threshold didn’t match my yearning. Persistence rolled off the wagon beneath just about everything else.

Yet I’m still not prepared to give up my writing career. Why?

Persistence has been whining in my ear for months now. Every morning she’s right there as I brush my teeth whispering schedule changes in the mirror. “Take 20 minutes between lunch and organizing online classes to review the two prologue versions for KILLING SECRETS.” Persistence is there when I take a break from teaching a class, tugging me toward my laptop. “Kick up your feet to ease the pain and, oh, by the way, take a minute to finetune the victim’s emotional distress after she’s kidnapped.” Persistence accompanies me into the kitchen when I throw dinner into the microwave at 9 p.m. after I’ve shut down my desktop with the intent to decompress from 14 hours of computer work. “Come on! You can at least read through what you wrote last week for IN DANGER’S SHADOW so you’re ready to pick it back up in the morning…after I’ve whispered tomorrow’s schedule changes into your ear!”

Persistence has become…persistent. I’m not quite sure what kicked her in the backside. I can’t say I even noticed it much until she became downright ornery. But, clearly, she’s been sneaking up behind I quit for months and wearing her down.

Hey! You don’t have to hit me up the side of the head twice! Wait. Yes. Evidently you do. But this writer’s getting the message. So I quit.

I quit fighting the inevitable. I quit allowing other things to get in my way, even if my friends throw puppy dog eyes at me to get me on board with a project. I quit dwelling on my health to the detriment of my writing. If I have to go through two surgeries to fix the problems, so be it. I quit pushing my writing, the one thing besides my family and friends that means the world to me, to the back burner of my life. I quit because Persistence is a lot stronger and she’s going to keep kicking my butt until I quit quits.

So. I’m back. Did ya miss me?!

It’s now February 20, 2012….

A lot has changed in the last year and a half. When I wrote that original Musing, I launched back into my life and career with a completely different mindset. I’m now taking better care of me. I split my genres. And last, but not least, I’ve taken my career in my own hands and published my first book.

• Taking better care of me was an imperative first step. In addition to some serious health issues I was not cognizant of or simply ignoring, I had run myself into the ground trying to juggle too many balls. The ball with the word write on it wasn’t even in the air much of the time. It sat on the ground looking up at me with reproach until I picked it up and tried to juggle it with all the others. And my health suffered.

I’ve since learned that Wonder Woman is a comic book hero and I just can’t wear her tights with any panache at all. Many of us, as women, overextend ourselves in some misguided attempt to be the perfect mom, wife, girlfriend, sister, friend, and writer and, the truth is, there’s no such person! If I were to encourage you, writer or reader, to take anything from what I’ve learned it’s to give yourself permission to not be perfect at everything. You’re not doing anyone a favor by killing yourself with unrealistic expectations.

• Splitting my genres gave me room to be truly creative once again. I wrote traditional and short contemporary novels for a long time. I loved the books I wrote. I did well even though I didn’t actually sell for one reason or another. But line closures and my growth toward romantic suspense told me I needed to move on. At the time, it was a good decision but with the recent industry changes, I realized I’d thrown the baby out with the bath water. Moving on to romantic suspense didn’t mean I had to give up on my contemporaries. Besides, my romantic suspense has taken a much darker tone than expected and I find the cute contemporaries are the breath of fresh air I need to offset the darker suspense. Splitting my genres was the best thing I could have done for my creativity.

• Taking my career into my hands and publishing my own projects, quite honestly, had never been on my radar. I didn’t want to go with a digital publisher. Not to diss any of the wonderful digital publishers out there or to the great authors who publish with them, it was impossible for me to see me going that route. I’m “old school” and I had my heart set on print. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

Sweeping changes in the industry with the Kindle, Nook, and other self-publishing digital formats, changed my mind quite recently. Like late last fall recently! My critique partners were encouraging, okay, pushing me to finish my current suspense project to take advantage of the new publishing opportunities. I wasn’t ready to push my unfinished baby onto the world. Their response? “So publish one of your contemporary romances. They’re great and readers will love them, and you can take a break from serial killers once in a while.”

I love my critique partners! I have no doubt part of their reasoning was that they had started to get as buried in the darkness of my psychological suspense as I was, but they do know me and my writing. And as they so often are, they were right. That next day, I split my genres, tweaked my website to accommodate two genres, and pulled out one of my favorite contemporary romances – a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest – and got to work.

That leads me back to the Isaac Asimov quote I pulled from the internet a year and a half ago. I’ve come full circle. Persistence has finally K.O.d, knocked out and obliterated, I Quit winning the championship round on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, the day I published my debut contemporary romance novel, Satin Pleasures. Since last week, I’ve been feeling like Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky, my hands thrown high as I pump the air with my fists at the top of the stairs in celebration.

I know this is only the beginning. I’ll have to go through the entire process with the next book and the next, and the next after that because I want you, my readers, to get the very best stories I can write for you. I have six brothers in my upcoming romantic suspense series, Thorne’s Thorns. I plan to have the first brother, Patrick Thorne’s story out this summer.

I’m still learning – we won’t even discuss how I’ll add promotions and blogging and reviews, etc. to the balls I’m now juggling — but as long as I keep company with Persistence, I just may see my way clear to recapturing a bit of the Wonder Woman in me.

Nah! Never mind. That’s just so wrong…I still can’t fit into her tights!

[If you’re interested in reading an excerpt of SATIN PLEASURES, I’ve posted one on my website at The book is now available on Kindle at and Nook at for only $3.99.

 ANNOUNCEMENT: Yesterday, at noon as promised, I randomly pulled one of the names from the five (5) comments on my February 13th blog post. I’m happy to announce the winner of the #FREE digital copy of SATIN PLEASURES is Gerri Bowen! Congratulations, Gerri! I’ll contact you privately to get your email address so I can send your PDF copy. Thanks, everyone, for commenting!

Monday Musings: One-Minute Romance Novel….


A friend shared this with me some time ago, labeling it “One Minute Romance Novel.”  I had no clue this was a commercial when I opened it, let alone what was being advertised, but it didn’t matter. I simply enjoyed the romance story. When I got to the end of the commercial I was surprised, yet not, by the product being sold.  It is a creative approach to product placement.  But that’s not what my Musings are about today.

Let’s talk about the romantic appeal of this one minute “story”, about expectations and every woman’s dream man.  Our heroes.

Don’t we all want to wake up married to a sexy, loving man who lives only to make us happy?  Many of us grow up with some version of Prince Charming living at the back of our minds ready to charge in, slay our dragons and hug us close on top of his white charger as he whisks us away to his castle.  That doesn’t mean we all want tons of money, rocks on our finger the size of a goose egg, and a man catering to our every whim.

Too much cloying attention screams stalker to this damsel! Just saying…there are limits to my Prince Charming fantasies!

No.  It’s the idea that a man loves us so much he’s willing to go that extra mile to give us everything we need and want that appeals to our feminine psyche.  We want our men to be attractive and strong and successful at whatever he does for a living. We’re instinctually hardwired to seek the perfect mate.  It’s embedded in our DNA.

Heroes are the reason I read and write romance novels.  I fall a little in love with each hero I meet.  Or not.

This bank commercial brought that dichotomy home to me.  As women, we have differing viewpoints on what is important to us.  You may want a man with strong protective instincts, while another woman wants a man who can give her the lifestyle to which she’d like to become accustomed. Maybe you want an alpha male and your best friend finds a Beta male more to her liking.  A man’s drive for a higher position in the social hierarchy might turn you on, while driving the next woman away because she wants to be the center of her hero’s world. The point is that the individual appeal of a hero is directly connected to what we look for in a man, either consciously or subconsciously.

With this in mind, let’s go back to my reaction to the hero in the commercial.  I know millions of women love George Clooney so the producer’s choice of hero makes sense in the grand scheme of things.  But, at the risk of being tarred and feathered for even suggesting such blasphemy, Clooney leaves me cold.  Oh, he’s handsome enough, I guess.  I just don’t like him.  He doesn’t do it for me.  I wish I could tell you specifically why.  I suspect it’s partially wrapped around his playboy good looks.  Even before I learned anything about him personally, I somehow knew he was a player and not to be trusted to take anything seriously, especially regarding a woman’s heart.  He’s a grown up Peter Pan. Not the type of man that turns me on at all!

Now, throw some of my favorite movie heroes into the same commercial role, I’d be running to that bank barefoot through a blizzard to open an account.  Especially if the hero is Jason Statham—actually, at the moment, that man reigns supreme over my feminine psyche—Sean Connery, at just about any age, “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson, Liam Neeson, Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, Tom Selleck, Patrick Swayze (miss him!), and several others…I can go on!  🙂

In analysis, I know I adore all of these men because they play strong heroes, both emotionally and physically, who go above and beyond to protect the people they love.  Even to the point of dying for their loved ones.  In practicality, dying for me isn’t what I’d want from the man I love. It’s the concept that he’s willing to do whatever’s necessary to protect me that appeals to me.

Knowing what kind of man turns me on, I’m not surprised by the type of hero I find in every book that hits my Keeper Shelf whether it’s a contemporary, suspense, historical, or paranormal.  These men are not all classically tall, dark and handsome.  They don’t all have millions to keep their heroines in jewelry and classic cars. They may be bad boys or the boy next door. They are, however, all completely invested in their love for their heroine and loved ones.  This is what fits my vision of the truly heroic man.

What kind of hero turns you on when you pick up a romance novel?  The Greek God? The warrior?  The friend? The sexy bad boy?  What about movie actors who do it for you?  What is it that makes you willing to shell out your hard earned cash just so you can spend two hours with them on a leisurely Sunday afternoon? Who are your favorites?  There’s no right or wrong answer to any of these questions but, if you’d like to share, enquiring minds want to know.

Okay, the truth is I want to know!  I’m always on the lookout for another hero to place on my Keeper Shelf. 🙂

Monday Musings: Split personality of a writer….

  MONDAY MUSINGS: Split personality of a writer….

I had hoped to have an extra-special post today.  As many of you know I’m preparing for the release of my first contemporary romance, SATIN PLEASURES, by the end of this month.  Alas, I must wait to share my new book cover and book blurb with you. The cover isn’t finished.  Sigh. With any luck, I’ll have it for you next Monday along with the announcement the book’s available for sale.

It drives me crazy when I don’t have control over absolutely everything!

There, I said it. I’m a control freak. A nice appellation is “Type-A Personality” but we all know that simply means that I worry things into perfection.  I write and revise and write and revise my manuscript pages daily.  This blog post will be revised half a dozen times as I write it.

Blast through an entire story and then go back and edit?  Pshaw!  Each scene I write is completely revised at least ten times before I type THE END on a manuscript.  I can’t go on until I’ve gone back over the previous 2-3 scenes.

In theory, I know this methodology was born as a result of the years I spent in revision as a pure pantser.  Yeah, I know it’s hard to believe I was ever a pantser but, believe me, it’s true!  I used to get up each morning and write whatever came to mind.  I didn’t plot anything and went wherever my muse took me.  I wallowed in the creativity I didn’t allow anywhere else in my life.  Completely unfettered, I wrote one of my earlier novels in eight weeks!

I don’t know where that writer went.  I can’t even pinpoint exactly when she disappeared into the mist.  It was a gradual thing and can be attributed to a number of factors.  Spending months, years in perpetual revision was only part of the transition.  I learned a lot about the craft of writing during that time.  POV (Point of View).  Characterization.  Plotting, etc.  Each skill I added to my repertoire made it more difficult for me to separate my creative side from my pragmatic side. When I made the subconscious decision to turn my love for writing into a career—yes, it was subconscious long before it became a conscious decision–my business background took hold, my stories became creative products, and the rest, they say, is history.

I’m not saying this transition was all bad. Writing a novel in eight weeks doesn’t guarantee the story’s good enough to publish.  Interestingly enough, SATIN PLEASURES was that novel.  Creatively, it wasn’t a bad story. In fact, it was a RWA® Golden Heart® finalist back when the only thing they looked at was the first three chapters and synopsis. (The book didn’t need to be finished then to be entered.  I only had the first three chapters and synopsis, but I was the Queen of Pristine Proposals!)  But I didn’t win, the story didn’t sell despite the fact several editors like many things about it.  I just hadn’t grown into my skills. I wasn’t quite “ready for prime time.”

I’ve since forged a comfortable balance between my creativity and my skills.  Well, most of the time, it’s a comfortable balance.  The editor perched on my shoulder does have 12-inch talons embedded in my creative soul!  I plot using the “W” technique I teach.  I focus my attention on making sure I use my technical skills to create a coherent, compelling story.  And my muse has learned to dance in whatever scene she wants in whatever order she wants. (Yes, I’m a non-sequential writer 🙂 ) Thanks to this alliance, I’m now ready to present my book to the world.

Yet, I’m discovering there are still things I can’t control.  Like my cover art.  My creativity doesn’t include drawing a straight line with a ruler, let alone designing the gorgeous cover I want.  So, I have no choice but to let someone else do it. Which means I have no control…and that just makes me crazy. 🙂

Monday Musings: And so it begins….

Here’s to my lack of a Musings post on this first Monday in 2012! A friend in my TwitterWorld sent this to me today and I found myself laughing out loud. This is soooo me today!

I have no excuses for not launching this new year right with a proper Monday Musings. Oh, wait, I *do* have excuses but you don’t really want to hear them.

I had all of these good intentions going into the holidays:

1.  I was going to get ahead of myself on my Monday Musings blog posts instead of scrambling every weekend when I don’t have time to write. My poor husband does occasionally need more company than the dust bunnies who are building a thousand acre ranch — hey, to those little rascals it is 1,000 acres — across our house.

2.  I wanted to launch my new **Author Special** feature on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s, introducing my many author friends and their favorite recipes. Yes, it’s an excuse to fill my recipe book with more goodies, my library with more TBRs, but shhh, we won’t tell them I have ulterior motives besides entertaining you.

3.  I was going to finally get my 2011 RomCon photos up on my website so everyone will see how much fun we had so they’ll come play with me, ahem, us in June for 2012 RomCon. Ya think anyone will notice if I just mix them up with June’s event?

4.  I wanted to finish the last edits and formatting on my contemporary romance, SATIN PLEASURES, get the cover finalized, and publish it by December 31st. Wow, I’m sooo in trouble if that old adage, “Go out of the old year as you mean to go into the new one”, rings true. I must…I must…I must improve my….oh wait, wrong ditty.

5.  I must get back to telling Patrick and Rachel’s story in KILLING SECRETS.  The serial killer in my head is getting impatient and screaming to get out on the page so he can…well, can’t tell you that. I’m keeping his secrets so I don’t end up as one of his victims.

6.  I was going to….

Well, you get the picture…and the lash of the wet noodle is already chafing my knuckles. Ah, the pain of it all!

I’m happy to report I did get one of these items checked off. If you missed it last Friday, check out Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special** highlighting author, Lizzie T. Leaf, and her wonderful recipe for Spinach Artichoke Dip. Can’t wait to make the dip and share (maybe) with my husband. I also have Lizzie’s book sitting at my elbow TBR asap. It’s one I’m dying to read.  It’s even autographed!

Happily, I’ve already scheduled two more authors to come visit us with recipes so watch for those in the coming weeks. I’ll post them every other week until I run out of authors and recipes…which I hope won’t be anytime soon. If  you’re an author reading this, please give me a private shout at and we’ll schedule a visit. I hope you all enjoy the special visits as much as I will.

As for the rest of my To-Do list, I’m just going to plug along until I get caught up. When this blog posts, I’ll have #1 done.  Well, sort of. I’ve got a week to get the next one done, right? Those sneaky semantics! Don’t you just love words?! 🙂

With hard editing/formatting, a swift cover artist, and a little bit of luck, my cute contemporary romance, SATIN PLEASURES, will be published in the next week or two. I hope you’ll check it out when I shout to the world that it’s ready for prime time.

As for #5, I need to hurry and clear the decks because that pesky killer isn’t going to shut up in my head until I wrangle him onto the page. The last thing you all want is for me to end up in the rubber room with those pretty hugging sleeves keeping me safe. I can’t type worth a damn in the silly things.

Happy New Year, my friends!

Monday Musings: Wedding Vows….

As this is my last Monday Musings before Christmas, I stockpiled several ideas of what I could talk about if I ran out of time. There’s one about heroes that attract us, well, me actually. I have another one about writing contests, love ’em or leave ’em. And another on reading pref…well, you get the picture.

You’re not getting any of those great ideas today. Which means you’ll just have to come back, right?

Just allow me this delusion or I’m likely to run screaming into the street, stark nekkid with a mache…okay, we won’t go there either. I don’t know why that image keeps popping into my head when I’m feeling the slightest bit stressed. Maybe another Musings topic someday!

To tell you the truth, I’m about as scattered as a hunting dog in a soccer field full of jackrabbits. We all know how frenetic the holiday season can be for everyone. We writer types usually don’t get much writing done around Christmas — okay, some of us don’t, those who do write despite these distractions are bound to be eaten by Zombies in the near future because that’s just plain wrong — but I’m more distracted than usual this season with my Army son and his buddy home for Christmas, another grandbaby about to make her grand entrance, shopping still undone, wrapping not even started….

BUT, I didn’t want to make you think I’d dashed off to the briar patch with all of those crazed rabbits. I wrote another Christmas (well, it is set to the ‘Jingle Bells’ song) poem I’d like to share with you about what is of most importance to this romance writer…building a love between a man and a woman that will withstand anything.

This is my Christmas card to all of you…my readers. Happy holidays!


Wedding Vows
By Karen Docter

Dashing through the files

Looking for the perfect line

O’er the page we pore

Searching all the time

Words do sometimes bring

A smile, a sigh, a fight

A romance is a tender thing

To make things turn out right


Oh, wedding vows, wedding vows

This is what we say

Oh, what fun it is to love

That one man every day

Wedding vows, wedding vows

This is what we say

Oh, what fun it is to love

That one man every day


Our heroine just can’t see

What the hero has inside

Until we do reveal

The words he tries to hide

He may be buff and fine

A financial wiz at work

If we can’t find our line

He just sounds like a jerk


Oh, wedding vows, wedding vows

This is what we say

Oh, what fun it is to love

That one man every day

Wedding vows, wedding vows

This is what we say

Oh, what fun it is to love

That one man every day


So here we sit all day

Looking for the perfect line

That reveals a man’s true heart

A woman can’t decline

She’ll see the man beyond

The words he cannot say

We work to make their love

Turn out in just that way


Oh, wedding vows, wedding vows

This is what we say

Oh, what fun it is to love

That one man every day

Wedding vows, wedding vows

This is what we say

Oh, what fun it is to love

That one man every day, yeah!

[Wedding Vows, Karen Docter © 2010]

[Inspired by Jingle Bells carol written by James Lord Pierpont (1822-1893) in

Monday Musings: All I want for Christmas is….

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Sir Richard Steele ~

I can’t tell you the number of times in the past few weeks I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t know what to get my mom, dad, sister, best friend – insert the role of the wonderful person in your life – for Christmas. S/he has everything!”

We all know that no one truly has everything. What you’re really saying is that you don’t have a clue what to get them that is fresh and new and speaks to their soul beyond Christmas morning. Something special they’ll remember having even if they don’t remember it came from you. A gift they’ll carry inside them forever.

It’s why I think the finest gift you can give to a reader is another book. The finest gift you can give to a writer is another reader…and a book.  🙂

It may seem simplistic, but a good book will never go out of style. The presentation hasn’t changed much over the years, even though many are now available through Kindle and Nook and other hand held devices. They’re all generally rectangular with covers and lots and lots of words inside. You can carry them everywhere you go. And many of them reach inside us and touch our souls forever.

In this fast-paced world of electronics, games, home-delivered DVDs, online TV program downloads, etc. it’s too easy to miss the simple pleasures…like reading a new story. A good book can carry you into a fantasy world so completely you forget the refrigerator just went on the fritz and its replacement has traumatized your credit card. A wonderful story can calm you after a frenetic day at work so you have the energy to smile at your child and snuggle with him. You can explore new worlds where characters just like you find alternative ways to resolve their problems, and experience vicariously that moment when a man and a woman discover their lust has grown into love or a villain is served justice. You may even leave the planet altogether and live a completely different life as a space princess for several hours.

I’m a reader who has stacks and stacks – fine, entire walls of bookshelves – filled with my TBR (To Be Read) books. I’m now the proud owner of a Kindle which is stacking my novels a bit more neatly. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be thrilled to receive another book. Or two. Or half a dozen.

If I’m lucky, someday soon, I’ll find myself filling my fantasy of sitting on a beach in Maui pulling one story after another from a bag in the sand. Food, drink, and the occasional decadent bonbon magically delivered and cleaned up by a six-foot elf with naughty eyes. Minimal clothing. Even more minimal distractions like phones and comput….okay, maybe just enough wireless internet service to chat with friends but nothing that resembles w.o.r.k.

Oops, sorry – got a little sidetracked there with my letter to Santa! 🙂  I’m pretty sure the jolly guy isn’t handing out Maui vacations this year. He looks a bit skinny to me, poor dear. And my own naughty-eyed, six-foot elf could use a vacation, too, so maybe I can fetch my own bonbons.

Anyway, back to my musings. If your hard-to-buy-for loved one is a reader your shopping dilemma can be easily solved. Find out what new releases she’s dying to read. Ferret out the name of his favorite author. Listen to your friends and discover new authors to introduce to your reader. Encourage that little munchkin in your life to read with a fun new book about making best friends or meeting trolls, squirrels, or friendly dragons that live in their room.

If your reader is also a writer, gift her with Christmas cheer by buying her book. There are so many wonderful authors to be discovered on the bookstore retail shelves, on Kindle and Nook. Another gift your favorite author is sure to love is a review of their latest release on Amazon, on the Barnes & Noble website. It’s a gift that costs you nothing but the time it takes to share your excitement about the story the author’s created for you.

You don’t need a fancy list for those “hard-to-buy-for” people in your life.  You don’t even have to check it twice.  No one has everything they want if they’re a reader. A book is unique, one of a kind, and there are thousands of them out there waiting to be unwrapped by some lucky “hard-to-buy-for” loved one.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me while I dash off to Amazon to make up my list for Santa. He’s going to be a busy guy if he’s going to load up the fifty or so novels I want!  Ohhhh, I want that one by Cherry Adair and that one by Barbara Freethy and that one by Allison Brennan and that one by Cynthia Woo….

Monday Musings: ‘Twas the week before Christmas….

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas
By Karen Docter

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the land
My dust bunnies had grown bold, joined the Editorial Band;

Revisions were hung by the critique rank and file,
In hopes that my manuscript would soon top the pile;

Characters were canoodling in their own special way,
While villains of danger snuck into the fray;

And my hero in his splendor, and heroine bathed in moon’s light,
Had just dissed their love for the fourth time this night;

When out of my brain there arose what I’d been missing,
Had to rush to the office to tweak a bout of kissing;

Away to my chair, I stumbled and swore,
Ripped open a Window and widened my eyes more;

The cursor, blinking cheerily on the computer screen, teased,
Tormenting my poor muse, more than it appeased;

When, what to my beleaguered senses should un-wend,
But my muse on a lotus blossom, and a close writer friend;

With a great mighty shove, so swift the prevention,
I knew in a thrice, this was editorial intervention;

So swift the editor kicked off her perch, ideas they came,
And my muse danced and sang, I knew this was the game.

“Now, Narrative! Now, Point of View! Now, Adjective and Verb!
On, Sentence! On Paragraph! On, Synopsis and Blurb!”

“To the top of the list! To the top of the pile!
Now print away! Print away! Print away, smile!”

As manuscript pages that before crazed muse envision,
When they hide behind walls, come out with permission;

So rise to the occasion the plot points they grow,
With a screen full of characterization, my muse did yet glow;

And then, in that moment, I heard my hero speak,
Those sensuous words and statement of love’s peak;

As I reached for the words, and was putting them down,
My heroine laughed and tried on her wedding gown;

From her fingers danced stars, my muse had donned glitters,
Her crown was tipped over from too many gin-and-bitters;

But she sat on my poor editor, not allowing her vent,
My muse looked like an angel, or maybe an agent;

Her face – how it glowed! Her dimples how naughty!
Her eyes full of mischief, her nose not one bit haughty!

Her gleeful expression was fixed on the page,
And the stubborn tilt of her chin was as firm as a sage;

An eraser-less pencil she clenched tight in her hand,
And an aura of contentment encircled the land;

She had purpose to her step, was lithe enough to bend,
To the winds of creativity, she was surely there to wend;

She was the vision of my heroine, an odd little perk,
And I laughed when I saw her, my psyche at work;

With a gracious smile and a nod in my direction,
She gave me the notion I could bow to her perfection;

She spoke not at all, but took over my work,
And filled all the holes; then turned with a smirk.

And saving her words, I would tomorrow sigh,
And giving me a look, out of the office she did fly.

She freed my sorry editor, dusted her off with a smile,
And away she tottered without the least bit of guile.

But I heard her exclaim, as she packed up her bikini,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good ‘Finis’!”

[‘Twas the Week Before Christmas, Karen Docter © 2007]

[[Inspired by ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, attributed to Clement Clarke Moore.]]