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Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Kari Cole!

I can hardly believe it, but we’ve reached the end of our series of guest blogs and interviews with the Rebelles, the 2017 Golden Heart Finalists!! Our final guest is the lovely Kari Cole, whose manuscript CONSTANT CRAVING has been nominated for Best Paranormal Romance two years in a row!!

Kari is a two-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, winner of both the 2015 Daphne du Maurier award and the Toronto Romance Writers’ Catherine. She lives in Upstate New York with her college-sweetheart, two way-too-smart-for-their-own-good sons, and a ridiculous labradoodle named for the bravest of Star Wars heroes, Artoo. She has a MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo and has worked in sales, marketing, and human resources.

Kari writes paranormal romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is a member of several RWA chapters, including: Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal; Kiss of Death; the Golden Network; and the Capital Region Romance Writers, where she serves as Treasurer.

Here’s a blurb for CONSTANT CRAVING:

She’s no one’s prey, but the alpha means to capture her heart.

Who’d think to bring silver bullets to a wedding? When Izzy Meyers arrives in Montana and discovers her human foster brother is marrying into the local werewolf pack, she wishes she’d brought a whole suitcase full. Werewolves are monsters. She should know . . . she is one.

Luke Wyland never planned on being the alpha of his pack, but he’ll do anything to protect it. Rogues are hunting and killing in his territory, and it’s up to Luke to stop them. Finding a mate who wants nothing to do with him is a complication he doesn’t need, but letting Izzy go isn’t an option.

Raised to hate shifters, Izzy is confused by her intense attraction to the domineering alpha and her growing affection for the werewolves. As she and her foster family are thrown into the danger engulfing the pack, Izzy partners with Luke to destroy the traitors threatening the people she loves. But to survive, they must trust in themselves and each other, or lose everything.

“She should know…she is one”—what a great line!! Fabulous conflict, too! I can see why this has done so well with its readers!

Okay, folks, Kari’s going to sit down for a chat with me today, so grab a chair here under the big Montana sky, and grab a slice of wedding cake. Friendly werewolves welcome, too!

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Welcome, Kari! It’s great to have you with us! So, tell us a little more about your Golden Heart book (for both 106 and 2017!!) and the process of writing it.

CONSTANT CRAVING is the first book in the Apex Predator series. Versions of it have been swimming around my brain for a long time. I was fascinated with the idea of a crashed helicopter pilot stuck in the snowy mountains. I had a dream where a female pilot looks out a cracked windshield to see a pack of wolves emerging from the woods. Instantly, she feels a connection and knows she belongs with them. I woke up and said, “Oh, she’s a werewolf.” A little while after that, I saw a video of Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth—who has since become a Senator—utterly destroying a shady businessman during a congressional hearing. An Iraq War veteran, Senator Duckworth, lost both her legs in combat while flying a Blackhawk helicopter. Ding, ding, ding! I now knew who my heroine was. Izzy, too, is a veteran combat pilot, who uses her skills to great advantage to help save the day in CONSTANT CRAVING.

Oh, what fabulous imaginary origins!!! I’m sure Izzy is absolutely kick-ass!! So this story started with a dream. Has your imagination always worked like that?

I’ve always had stories in my head. They were just for me. I used them to settle down to sleep or alleviate a boring job. I never wrote them down, and I never shared them. Some were simply fan fiction, others were wholly new worlds, with original characters bopping around. A few have been my companions for many years.

I’m the same way. I have many story “companions” that have been with me for years. Clearly, at some point you started writing yours down. What tipped you over into getting them on paper?

*Shrinks down behind a chair* Please, don’t throw rotten fruit at me. After my older son was born, I started writing down the stories in my head out of sheer boredom and the all-too-real possibility of losing my mind. There. I said it. Being a SAHM is not for everyone, and my son had what is now diagnosed as acid reflux. Back then, the doctors told me to just let him cry. Have you ever listened to a baby cry all night, every night, punctuated by the sounds of retching? It was torture. This went on for three and a half years, before my son grew out of it and slept through the night. I started writing during this time to save myself. Fan fiction mashups at first, then some original Urban Fantasy. I still firmly believe there should be a Highlander/Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossover. Joss Whedon, call me.

Joss Whedon should call you!! And, oh, sweet heaven, a baby with that kind of crying for THREE AND A HALF YEARS??? My oldest had colic for three months, and when the doctor told me it might last more than a couple weeks, I honestly thought I was going to die. My hat is off to you for surviving so long!!! (Honestly, readers, if you know a mom with a baby who cries all night, every night, please consider offering to walk the floor with the baby some night so the mama can put in earplugs and get a few hours sleep.) Okay…okay… traumatic memories are running away with me. Ahem. So, you started writing to save your sanity. When did it turn to writing Romance?

I didn’t start writing Romance until I joined Saratoga Romance Writers. Mostly, I wanted to be around people who knew what this writing thing was all about. The ladies there were so willing to offer their advice and help. The value of an organization like RWA and its local chapters cannot be understated.

Yay for RWA local chapters!! They’ve kickstarted many a career. What about more personal writing support? Do you have a CP or beta readers or a writing critique group? If so, how do you work together?

Oh, yeah! There are four of us in my critique group: Me, Autumn Jones Lake, Cara Connelly, and Virginia Frost. We don’t have a jazzy name or anything—Jeez, we should really get on that—but we meet every week to go over pages, plot-doctor, plan career moves, etc. We’re all members of Capital Region Romance Writers. Usually, we meet at a local Panera, or maybe someone’s house. If we can’t meet, we email pages to each other. And if we don’t send pages, the rest of us start whining. We’re each other’s biggest fans—oh, okay, outside of our husbands. I swear on Harrison Ford’s crooked smile, I would not have come this far without my crit partners’ unwavering support, excellent editing skills, and whip-cracking.

That sounds like an awesome arrangement!! So you’ll be at Nationals, right? And you’ve been there before. How do you prepare? Are you nervous about networking with the agents and editors at the new reception they’re holding this year for Golden Heart finalists?

I always get a little—okay, a lot—crazy before a conference. Mostly, due to wardrobe issues. I used to have a closet full of beautiful suits and business clothes, but after many years out of Corporate America, they are a little out-of-date. And far too small. Darn pizza addiction. But the pitching and schmoozing stuff doesn’t bother me.

I know many writers get so stressed about networking. People are always asking me why I’m so calm at these things. (Your readers are probably sorting through their pen drawers, looking for the pointiest one to stab me with.)

How have I achieved this impossible state of Zen? I have a little trick I learned back in the dark ages, aka the 90s, when I was in sales and marketing. It’s simple actually, and something everyone can do. I remind myself that every single person attending that conference wants the same thing: to sell books. Boom!

I oversimplified, but you get the point. This boils down to straightforward economics. It’s supply and demand. We writers supply the content. Agents sell that content to editors, who then publish it and sell it to wonderful, voracious readers who demand more, more, more! Awesome isn’t it?

Without writers, agents and editors would have nothing to sell, nothing to do.

The principle stands, even if you plan to take the Indie route. You’ll still need to find an editor for your books, maybe someone to handle your foreign rights or produce the audiobook version. You’ll probably want to talk to the staff from Amazon or iBooks, or one of the many other vendors you’ll be dealing with as you navigate running your own business.

All that means networking, which is really just a fancy way to describe talking with people who share an interest with you. All those agents, editors, librarians, vendors, and writers love the same thing I do: books! They are part of my tribe. All of them.

I apply the same idea to pitching, or chatting with the woman stuck in the elevator with me. Anytime I feel nervous or overwhelmed, I remind myself that I could not find a more welcoming group to share my love of a great story than the attendees at Nationals.

That’s a great way to think about it! Everybody’s out there looking for the allies they need to win in this business (can you tell I’m typing this up while waiting for the new season of Game of Thonres to start?)

Thanks so much for being with the Rubies today, Kari! What question do you have for our readers to get the conversation going today?

How do you deal with the anxiety of leaving your writing cave to network, pitch, and socialize at a conference?

 

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Connect with Kari Cole on social media at

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kariwcoleauthor/?ref=settings

Twitter: @KariWCole

 

The Latest Comments

  • Darynda Jones: I love this! I learned this fairly early as well. I also learned that sometimes I just have too many...
  • Heather McCollum: Thanks, Jenn! I forgot that you are also a free lance editor! Do you do both developmental and line...
  • Jennifer Bray-Weber: Very sound advice, Heather. I have done the same technique and often recommended it to some of...
  • Darynda Jones: Bwahahaha! I was so wondering where that was going! Did NOT see that coming. Great job, Evelyn!
  • April Mitchell: Congratulations Bonnie!

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