After hearing all about Karen White on her more recent tours promoting "The House on Tradd Street" and "The Girl on Legare Street", and after my thoroughly enjoyable experience reading her recent book, "On Folly Beach", I was thrilled to have her come visit via a guest post on You've GOTTA Read This! In some of her visits to other blogs over the past months, I've been mighty impressed with this lady. Not only is she very personable, she is incredibly busy, cranking out about two books a year, but also juggles family life with kids, laundry and a social schedule, all in a very organized fashion. A woman after my own heart! Let's see what's going on with Karen today:
Right now I’m at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival surrounded by about 149 other authors and lots of lots of books and readers—two of my favorite groups. Seriously, it doesn’t get much better than hanging out all day with people who love to do what I love to do: read and write. If a group of chocolatiers or donut-makers showed up, I would know that I had died and gone to heaven.
I just came from speaking on a panel of five authors (myself included). The panel’s title was “Established Southern Writers.” I guess I never really considered myself “established” before—at least not before I sat behind my signing table and the stacks of my backlist books—all ten of them. I kind of felt like a glutton peering behind my teetering stacks. Granted, I have been writing for ten years and it did take me four years to write that first book. I’ve just learned to write faster now. Much faster.
My fellow authors are surprised that I write two novels a year. So was my family when I first told them that I had to stop cooking dinner because I needed the time to write. But it’s all been good. I’m a lousy cook anyway, and my time is better spent writing. I’m currently writing the third book in my four-book Tradd Street mystery series and, according to the reader letters I’ve been receiving, I need to write faster. After I push the ugly thoughts aside about my whip-wielding readers, I sit back with thankfulness. I’m thankful that readers are loving my characters and stories so much that they’re bereft when they’re away from them. That’s the absolutely best part of being a writer.
Am I a workaholic? Maybe. Although I suspect that when I’m offered a contract it’s more like a starving person going grocery shopping: I enthusiastically help myself without thinking that my time has other commitments (like doing laundry and raising children). But I love writing. Even more than writing, I love sharing my stories with readers. And it’s all working out. My next book, ON FOLLY BEACH (May 4, 2010) has been finished since last November, which gave me the month of December to celebrate the holidays with my family. My November 2010 book (FALLING HOME) is a re-write of an old 2002 release—it’s got a great new cover and a re-haul of the writing although the story and characters are the same. Re-writing a novel wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but it was a lot easier than starting from scratch.
Still, by the end of 2010, I will have had thirteen books published in ten years. I’m no Nora Roberts, but it’s a lot of books. I didn’t plan on that, it’s simply been the natural progression of my career. I’ve learned how to write cleaner, sharper, faster, and, I believe, better. I’ve learned what to give up (cooking, television) so I have the time to do the things I want to do (writing, spending time with my family). Like everything in life that’s worth doing, it takes hard work and sacrifice, but the rewards are endless.
The perks are nice, too. Here at the festival there’s a famous children’s book author signing her backlist and her most current books. When my children (now 16 and 18) were little, I bought all of her books and read them to my kids, who can still quote lines from the books. I just earned major “mommy points” by getting them each a signed copy of two of their favorites. It’s no small feat impressing a teenager.
Tomorrow I have a long 5-hour drive back home. I’ve got a book on CD to listen to, and five hours of blissful aloneness before returning to deadlines and laundry. But it’s all good.
Doesn't it feel like you've just had a chat with an old friend? And her enthusiasm is infectious. She obviously loves what she's doing, and that shows in her work. If you haven't had a chance, make sure you check out my review of On Folly Beach!