Monday, June 23, 2008

Make-Believe Mondays With Karen Wiesner

Today on Make-Believe Mondays our guest is Karen Wiesner.

Karen, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Karen: I’m never working on one thing at a time. I think a writer is always fresher when working on manuscripts in stages. Plus, I’m always working six months to a year ahead of releases so I’m never rushed and can always be working on new projects.

This month, I’m writing the third book in my Family Heirlooms Series (inspirational romances), Foolish Games, which features characters from the first book, Baby, Baby (to be released in electronic formats on June 24, 2008; trade paperback early 2009) and the second, Shadow Boxing (coming January 2009 electronically; later in 2009 in trade paperback). Kimberly Wolfe was one of Peter Samuels’ late wife’s best friends. He’s the man she’s loved from afar for as long as she can remember. Falling in love could take simply letting go of their fears...or a miracle. For more information about this series, visit

Book 2 of my Kaleidoscope Series (contemporary romances), “Behind Amethyst Eyes” (to be released September 2009 in Tales from the Treasure Trove, Volume V, A Jewels of the Quill Anthology) has been written and will be revised this month. For more information about this series, visit

Finally, I’ll be outlining Book 8 of my Incognito Series (action/adventure romantic suspenses) at the end of this month in preparation for the March 2009 release date. More about the Incognito Series can be found here:

Debra: I'm always happy with more than one manuscript in the works too. If I get stuck on one I can always work on another one.

Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?

Karen: Many different ways. First, I write in basically every genre conceivable except historical, Regency, Young adult, and science fiction/fantasy. An author really has to be creative to spread herself out so much, so to speak. Discipline is my key to staying creative. I mentioned working in stages. The way I see it, there are several, very distinct stages in writing a book. They include:

1) Brainstorming
2) Outlining
3) Setting the outline aside
4) Writing the story
5) Setting the novel aside
6) Editing and polishing the story

Working in stages is essential for keeping my creativity at its peak. Brainstorming occurs, most ideally, over a period of years before I have enough details accumulated to begin an outline. Once the outline is completed, allowing it to sit for a couple of weeks—or even months—before writing the first draft is, again, absolutely essential. The next time I pick up my outline, I want to have a fresh perspective so I can evaluate if it really is as solid as I believed it was when I finished it. I also see more of those connections that make my story infinitely cohesive after I’ve had a rest.

Another reason for setting projects aside between stages is I, like most writers, always reach a point where my motivation runs out and I simply want to get away from it as fast as I can. With every single book, I get to rock bottom and I’m convinced that if I ever see it again, I’ll tear it to shreds. Setting it aside between the various stages the project goes through really gives me back my motivation for it and creativity (and love!) in spades. I’m always amazed at how much better I can face the project again when I haven’t seen it for a week or even a month or two. I fall in love with it again. The next stage in the process becomes easier, too, and that helps my writing to be much better.

Also, the more books I have contracted (17 at present), the more I seem to need these breaks in-between stages, or even when I feel a project isn’t working. If I put it on a back burner for an extended period of time (as long as I can possibly allow and still meet my deadlines), amazing things happen over a low flame. By the time I return to it, I find myself bursting with new ways to fix the problems I couldn’t pinpoint when I was too close to and sick of it.

I honestly don’t know how a career author could do anything else and still meet deadlines without constantly burning out or facing writer’s block.

Debra: Thank you for sharing such a thorough glimpse into the life of a working author. It truly requires all sorts of juggling and multi-tasking.

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Karen: Funny that you ask. I was just recently talking about something similar with a critique partner, who asked me what the different is between a book that practically writes itself and one that comes hard. I think the answer to that comes down to characters. Even if I don’t have a book sitting in my head, brewing on a back burner for a long time, if I connect with the characters, I can write them as if I’m just following a movie those same characters are showing in my head. The writing of the book is simplicity itself then.

But when characters are hiding and won’t show me their internal workings, it’s harder to write a story. When characters hide, I do a lot of character sketches. I also believe that there’s a vital need for cohesive characters, settings and plots, and that’s part of what makes a book work and what makes one complicated to unknot. My September 2008 Writer’s Digest Book, From First Draft to Finished Novel {A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building} goes in-depth into this vital need for a cohesive trinity with these elements. For more information about this book and to pre-order a copy, visit

When the characters come to life like that—so I can see them, hear them, know exactly what they’d say, do and think in every single situation—is different for every project, and I wish I could pinpoint why some characters wait so long to come out and reveal themselves. It would make each project so much easier.

Debra: It would be nice if they showed up on the front porch on day one one, page one and said, "Here I am, you just type away and I'll dictate." But as you said, characters seem to have their own timing.

For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this been true for you? Have you ever dreamed a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?

Karen: Dreams are huge in my fiction writing. My police procedural novel, Degrees of Separation (Book 1 of the Falcon’s Bend Series I write with Chris Spindler), started with an amazingly vivid dream I’d had—years before Chris and I started thinking about writing together. After I woke up from that dream, I wrote down everything I remembered from the dream, and much of it formed the basis for the novel. “Blind Revenge” (Falcon’s Bend Case Files, Volume I) began just as I was about to drop off to sleep one night. In my mind, I saw a woman walking down a hall. I saw a man ahead of her. The woman kept walking past him, then she looked back at the door, and he was looking at her, too. The woman went outside, got in her convertible, and a second later the passenger door opened and the man got in. At that moment, my subconscious mind turned creepy. Suddenly this woman was blindly kissing her stranger like it was the end of the world. I knew that, for her, it was the end of the world when she said the witch was coming for her eyes. “Fixated” (also in FBCF, Volume I) was based on a dream I had about a woman who was being stalked by someone. “Retribution” (which will be in Falcon’s Bend Case Files, Volume II) is based on a dream I had about a scantily clad woman temporarily inhabiting a property and lurking in the backyard. When I woke, I was in a Falcon’s Bend mindset, and quickly worked this dream into the idea that the subdivision Lieutenants Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent live in becomes home to a very hot young mama…and their wives Lisa and Melody aren’t too happy about all the men in the neighborhood moonlighting as Peeping Toms. But it isn’t until the woman disappears, leaving her two children alone, that Lisa realizes crime is firmly afoot.

Anyway, I think using dreams to craft fiction is brilliant. Is it a little...well, disturbing? Sometimes it is, but writers can always make lemonade out of lemons.

Debra: I am fascinated by dreams and the subconscious as it affects writers and their works. For me it's part of the mystery, the magic of writing.

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Ruth Chew was my J.K. Rowling when I was a child. I loved immersing myself in the world of kids who always seemed to find a witch lurking nearby.

Debra: Karen, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

Readers can visit Karen at:
If you would like to receive Karen’s free e-mail newsletter, Karen’s Quill, and become eligible to win her monthly book giveaways, send a blank e-mail to

Debra's news/Debra is watching:

This week I am working on my second manuscript and looking forward to a visit from my Dad this weekend.

Over on Title Wave, the blog of the American Title II sisters, we have changed the format and content. Gina is blogging today. Hop on over and see what is up!
Title Wave

Authors who would like to be interviewed on Make-Believe Mondays may email me at


squiresj said...

I came from your email to this blog to see what you wrote. May God annoint you richly in all you are working on. I know he has blessed me as I have read your writing. So I am wishing for you today a special blessing

Morgan Mandel said...

I know what you mean about the part where I absolutely hate my book. It does help to set it aside and come back again. Sometimes it seems like a totally different book. Also, I can really spot problems when I have a fresh eye, or should I say eyes.
Morgan Mandel

Diane Craver said...

Hi Karen,
Great interview! I enjoyed reading how you approach your writing. BTW, I read BABY, BABY and loved it!

Diane Craver said...

Good luck on your second manuscript and enjoy your visit with your dad!

Debra Parmley said...

Thank you, Diane! I'm trying to get as much work done on the ms as I can before he arrives. (Though he's actually very good about waiting while I work.)