Sunday, September 23, 2012

Author, author... Karen Stivali all about her !

Please help me welcome


   Karen Stivali

What or who initially inspired you to become a writer?


The initial inspiration to become a writer came in first grade when my teacher assigned a paragraph about a picture and I handed in a seven page story. Although I never stopped writing I didn’t actually get serious about it until a couple of years ago. The inspiration at that point came from an encouraging friend who loved a piece of fan fiction I’d written for her as a birthday gift. She asked me to write more so I decided to write a story that had been stuck in my head for nearly a decade. I wrote it, sending her each chapter as it was written, thinking she was probably the only person who’d ever read it. That book is my novel Meant To Be, which is now available from Turquoise Morning Press. It also spawned a sequel, Holding On, that comes out in November, and a prequel that appears in the Foreign Affairs anthology. Since I remembered how much I love to write I haven’t been able to stop, and I hope I never do.


What kind of research do you do for a novel and how extensive do you get?


Most of my novels are set in modern times and in locations I’ve either lived or extensively visited, so I don’t usually have to do a ton of research. If I’m mentioning something I’m not too sure about (a train route, an illness, the technical details of a profession) I’ll not only Google it to death I’ll also try to find an expert on Twitter so I can talk to an experienced person and make sure I’m getting the intricacies correct. I’ve also taken a few fun field trips to certain towns or restaurants to double check my memory.


Do you have a special place you like to do your writing? Such as an office, a spare room, the dining room table, your couch?


My primary writing place is my kitchen desk. It’s cluttered and small and messy, but it’s in the kitchen which is the hub of my household. I like to be in the middle of things and able to multi-task. Most days I’m cooking and baking and answering phone calls and chatting with various family members in between rounds of writing. I don’t require seclusion or a perfect environment to write, I just need the ideas and my laptop.


As a reader, what types of works do you like to read and do you think they influence the genre/genres you write in?


I’ve always been fascinated by relationships and the way people interact, so I naturally gravitate toward books that have richly developed characters and a lot of dialogue and/or internal thought. And I’m a sucker for a love story. I’m not a fan of the stereotypical alpha-male, though, so I tend to genre hop in what I read and what I write. I go more for quirky, unique characters. This definitely influences not only my choice in reading material but also the characters I create. I try to write books I’d like to read but versions I haven’t seen yet. I like flawed, damaged characters that heal in the course of the story. The imperfections in people’s personalities and lives are what make them interesting. Perfection isn’t as perfect as it’s cracked up to be.


Also, given that I favor relationship stories and love stories, I tend to like books that include sex. Nothing frustrates me more than books that are all about how in love the two characters are and how they’ve gone through so much to be together, and then when the big moment comes and they finally make love for the first time the author fades to black. Gah! It’s enough to make me throw the book across the room, which makes me extra careful not to purchase books like that on my Kindle (much more breakable than a paperback). That is, however, the reason why all of my stories, whether they’re erotic romance, contemporary romance, or women’s fiction (with strong romantic elements)have open-door sex scenes. I wouldn’t tell you about a fabulous restaurant I dined at, describe the décor, the waiter, the menu and the flatware and then not tell you what the food tasted like, so if I’m telling you a love story  I can guarantee you’re going to hear the intimate details of the sex the characters have.


What is your favorite method of in laptop, desktop, Ipad or the old fashioned pencil and paper??  And do you plot out your story or go with the flow of your muse?


The vast majority of my writing is done on my laptop. I’ve actually never owned a desktop computer. That said, there have been scenes from pretty much everything I’ve written that have come to me at inopportune moments---while I’m putting on makeup in the morning, while I’m in line at the store, while waiting in the dentist’s office---so then I write on whatever’s handy. More than one scene has been penned on the back of an old receipt or a paper napkin. Given that this happens fairly often you’d think I’d be more prepared and would have pen and paper with me at all times. You’d be wrong. More often I wind up using a crayon or eyeliner or whatever else is handy. When I “see” a scene in my head it plays out like a movie, and if I don’t write it down, I’ll forget the nuances. I’ll use whatever I have to if it insures that I don’t forget the idea.


When you need a break or some time off from the trials of being a writer, what can you be found doing?


Wait, we’re allowed time off from the trials of writing?? Why wasn’t I told this?? Seriously, though, when I need a break from whatever is stressing me I usually turn to baking. I find it relaxing and it makes the house smell good. Plus it tastes good and has a way of making whoever’s had to put up with frazzled-writer-Karen a little more open to forgiving me. Nothing says “sorry I’ve been acting like a lunatic” better than a fresh batch of cookies or brownies.


Is there anything about yourself nobody knows that you would like to share with our readers??


Anyone who follows me on Twitter probably already knows more than they want to about me. I have a tendency to Tweet whatever pops into my head. I’m also the kind of person who will answer most any question someone asks. I may not offer the info outright, but if you specifically ask me I’ll more than likely tell you. Uh-oh. Now people are going to ask me a ton of bizarre personal questions…. Oh well. That’s okay.I’m open enough to answer most of them and stubborn enough not to answer the ones I really don’t want to answer.



For fun, I have a few personal questions,  

Your Favorite 5


1) Favorite color – garnet red (I love jewel tones, don’t care for pastels)

2) Favorite dessert – chocolate truffle loaf (with caramel sauce and crème anglaise)

3) Favorite Season – autumn (I love the colors the leaves turn, the crisp air and the smell of fireplaces)

4) Favorite sad song- Cat’s In The Cradle (makes me cry every time I hear it. Every. Time.)

5) Favorite Romantic movie – The Notebook or Jerry Maguire (There are actually tons more. I love romantic movies, especially when there’s a really difficult complication and the couple has to fight to be together. Makes the payoff so enjoyable. *sigh*)


And a bonus, what is your ideal romantic vacation??


My ideal romantic vacation is any kind of getaway with the man I love. For me romance is not about where you are, it’s about who you’re there with and how being with that person makes you feel.




Where can our readers find you??




Amazon author page:





Is there an upcoming or current release you would like to share with us today and where can we find it?


My first full length novel, Meant To Be, released from Turquoise morning press two weeks ago. It’s available digitally now and will be out in trade paperback in a few weeks.
The sequel,
Holding On,
will be released
on 11/26/12.


Here’s a peek at the blurb and cover for Meant To Be:


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.


Want a little excerpt? Here you go!


Marienne watched as Daniel grabbed a bottle of Coke out of her fridge.

He unscrewed the cap and took a drink. “It’s quite difficult to understand American slang when English isn’t your native tongue.”

He continued speaking but Marienne’s mind was caught on the words native tongue. Or, more specifically, tongue. More precisely still, Daniel’s tongue. She’d always loved the sound of his voice, the expressiveness of his choice of words, but sometimes she just enjoyed watching his mouth. This was one of those times. She studied his tongue as it moved to form his words, as it licked his lips when he paused to think, as it pressed against the Coke bottle when he drank. Heat prickled through her.

Is it hot in here or is it him? She was unable to focus on the thought as once again she was mesmerized. Now it was curved upward, pressing against the back of his top teeth as he looked at her, eyes narrowed.

“Are you all right?” he asked. The concern in his voice caught her attention as did the puzzled look on his face.

“What?” She no longer remembered what they’d been discussing.

“You’re not listening to a word I say, and that’s not like you. I’ve been speaking total gibberish and you didn’t even react. Are you okay? You’re all flushed.”

She tried to think of a way to explain to her best friend that she’d been too busy obsessing to concentrate. He’s divorced. Frank’s gone. Maybe I should. Her heart galloped.

He leaned over and felt her forehead. She held her breath, dizzy from his touch. She wanted to scoot forward and kiss him, hard, on the lips, but didn’t dare to move. Thoughts of the kiss, and his tongue, flashed through her mind.

“You’re really warm.” His hand trailed to her cheek, flipping over so he could assess her with the back of his fingers. They felt cool and silky along the contours of her face and she pressed against them.

His brow furrowed. “You’ve got a fever.”

What? Her hand flew to her forehead. “Shit,” she said, as even she could feel the burning warmth.

He grabbed a glass from her cupboard and held it beneath the ice dispenser. The crystal chunks tumbled into it. “You must have finally caught whatever Ella had last weekend.” He filled it with water and handed it to her.

“Oh, God. You’re right.” Ella had come home sick from preschool three days ago and that was the standard grace period Marienne usually got before catching things from her daughter. She rested her head on the kitchen table.


Daniel smiled at Marienne’s whining; she was acting like Ella.

“Drink your water.” He opened another cabinet and reached for the Tylenol. He shook out two and returned the bottle to the top shelf.

“Here.” He rubbed his knuckles against the top of her hand. “Take these.”

She groaned.           

“Take them.” He nudged a second time. Heat radiated from her skin. Enticing. Alluring. He shuddered, trying to shake the thoughts from his mind. “Come on now, be a good girl.”

She sat up and scowled. He smiled and dropped the tablets into her upturned hand. The backs of his fingers grazed her palm and a tingling flush rippled through him.

She stared at him, eyes defiant, then popped the pills into her mouth and took a sip of water. She flipped her head back and swallowed hard, an action that caused Daniel to gulp as well. He wanted nothing more than to swoop down and kiss her with total abandon, to feel her overheated body, to be immersed inside her.

He said the only words he could think: “Let’s get you up to bed.”


Here are some buy links for Meant To Be:




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. 


One more thing before we let you leave us today…do you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share?  I like to cook and am always looking for new recipes to try and share but it's totally up to you.



There’s a recipe from my real life that’s featured so heavily in Meant To Be I think I have to give you that one. It’s for the best ever chewy chocolate brownies.

Here’s the page on my blog that features the recipe and a yummy-looking photo!


Anyone who likes this recipe should scroll through the other recipe posts because a lot of my favorite recipes are there (including a homemade caramel sauce that makes an awesome topping for these brownies).
Karen, thank you so so much for stopping by today and sharing your new release and your upcoming one.  We're very excited for you and super anxious to read both of these books.  I also greatly appreciate the recipe link.  I'll be checking that out myself :)
Readers,make sure you hop on over to any of the sites listed above and get Meant to Be. 
Until next time, happy reading !!

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