Friday, February 4, 2011


My guest is debut author, Karen Wasylowski. You may remember reading her holiday story, Lord of Misrule, I featured on Over Coffee. In that story we got a glimpse of a the strong friendship between Darcy and Fitz.

As writers we can only write what we understand, what we've experienced, what we know, and what we feel. For the reader to be touched by what we write it has to ring true. The dynamics of the emotion, situation, or time period.  

I love reading books where there are strong family ties and I love the sense of camaraderie, fussing and arguments, but where the love is solid. Books with strong friendships also appeal to me. In those stories the friends form a family of their own, not by blood, but by love. When the author writes them properly you're brought into their magic circle and are part of them and their adventures. That's the joy of reading a good book.

Today's topic is friendship. It’s a subject dear to my heart because friendship is so important to me. I look my friends as the jewels of my life. My friendships, like my family, have shaped my life—in different ways—but I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. As a result it will also shape how I write about family and friendships. Karen tells a bit about the friendships that have shaped her life and hence her depiction of her characters, Darcy and Fitz.

My new novel, my only novel, Darcy and Fitzwilliam is about love, family and life- long friendships. Few of us have friends that last that long, that last a lifetime. We make acquaintances over the years and they play their parts in our lives at just the right moment of time then disappear again. Although we may regret their loss, it’s usually momentary, and they are gone from our thoughts quickly. Life long friends are different, they grow with you; their lives help in shaping your own. You may not agree all the time, you may not even like them occasionally, but they are as important to your being as breathing. I am very lucky. I have three life long friends; three women that I have known for decades, since my early childhood.

One such friend is Judy. We went to grammar school together, and although she is a few years older, she was placed in our class as an experiment in teaching the handicapped. She has been blind since birth. Each day the sister would ask someone to volunteer to take Judy to lunch and each day everyone would grumble because Judy walked slowly, she needed help with her food, her eyes looked funny. Many days I would volunteer; I felt so sorry for her standing there with her head bowed and her cheeks red with embarrassment. I wasn’t that kind every day, but many days I was. I learned a lot from Judy. I learned that people who looked different were just like you and me they just looked different. I learned that disabilities often could be overcome with greater abilities in other areas. She could play piano like an angel and we shared a love of music. Judy lives on her own, gripes about snow, taxes and her hair and gets mad at me for not liking the same books as she does. I get aggravated with her then often we gossip and always we laugh.

Another close friend from childhood is Fay. She moved next door to us when I was seven years old and she was nine and I remember her mother calling as we played in my yard and asking if Fay could join us. We got along great right from the start, but there were outside problems. Her family was the first Jewish family in our neighborhood and apparently that offended somehow. I could never understand why their religion mattered. Fay was my dear friend, our parents were friends, and it was warm and nice. A few neighbors were very angry with that. They wrote ugly words on our garage door that my mother wouldn’t let me see. She also would not let Fay’s mom have someone paint over. She said, “It’s just the truth, Dorothy. I do love you; and, you are a Jew. I’m proud of it, of our friendship – let it stay.” Some few days later the words mysteriously disappeared but the friendships remained, between my mom and Mrs. C, and between Fay and me. She encouraged my love of reading, my drive for learning, and gave me my first book. We complain about husbands, work and rotten movies. She’s hilarious.

My third friend from childhood is Diane; we met in kindergarten. She is my closest friend but I could never explain to you why she stands out from the rest. She and I always seemed to compete, we liked the same boys, we fought, we laughed, and we talked for hours on the phone (still do). Our friendship broke up over a guy. We didn’t speak to each other for at least twenty years – just drifted apart until about ten years ago when some mutual acquaintance gave Diane my number and she called. It was amazing; no time had gone by at all. I felt the same strong connection to her, the same bond - as if we had been living next door to each other since the beginning of time. Her life during those twenty years was very hard with divorce and sickness. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for her then, but I am now. Diane and I relate on a whole different level. I love her now and will forever.

Friendship is not something any of us can arrange, it just happens deep within. It is an accidental connection that grabs you and stays with you, whether together or apart, whether related to each other or from different cultures and religions. It is a miracle.

I am lucky. I have had three good friends.

  • Readers: How have friendships shaped your life?
  • Writers: How have your friendships in life affected your writing?

DARCY AND FITZWILLIAM: A Tale of An Officer and a Gentleman

A gentleman in love cannot survive without his best friend...

Fitzwilliam Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam couldn't be more different, and that goes for the way each one woos and pursues the woman of his dreams. Darcy is quiet and reserved, careful and dutiful, and his qualms and hesitations are going to torpedo his courtship of Elizabeth. His affable and vivacious cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam is a military hero whose devil-may-care personality hides the torments within, until he finds himself in a passionate, whirlwind affair with a beautiful widow who won't hear of his honorable intentions.

Cousins, best friends, and sparring partners, Darcy and Fitzwilliam have always been there for each other. So it's no surprise when the only one who can help Darcy fix his botched marriage proposals is Fitzwilliam, and the only one who can pull Fitzwilliam out of an increasingly dangerous entanglement is Darcy... Book Trailer (near the bottom)

A Truly original look into the life of Mr. Darcy and his cousin... This is Mr. Darcy as you've never seen him before, relaxed and at ease with the one person who knows him even better than he knows himself. A look into the private friendship of one of literature's most underappreciated pairs in a fascinating and historically accurate look at male friendship and fellowship in the Regency era.


Karen Wasylowski is a retired CPA. She and her husband spend their free time volunteering with charitable organizations that assist the poor. They also are actively involved with Project Light of Manatee, providing literacy instruction to immigrants and to members of the community. Karen and her husband live in Bradenton, Florida. Her debut, Darcy And Fitzwilliam, will be released February 1, 2011 by Sourcebooks.

You can find out more about Karen and her writing on her website.

You can also fined her at the Austen Blog, Facebook

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Writing on Stage

My guest is Isabel Sharpe. She writes both romances for HarlequinBlaze and women’s fiction for Harper/Collins.

Her topic is an interesting one for a romance author. We many times assume that romance authors are writing happy, sexy romances from happy experience—and sometimes they are. But how do you write romantic comedy when your life is anything but romantic or funny? A good question and one that Isabel addresses.

Imagine you are writing a romantic comedy. Light, funny, a farcical romp. Now imagine that while you’re writing it, you’re going through a separation and divorce, and that a few weeks before your deadline, the date September 11, 2001 rolls around.

Light! Funny! Romp-y!

Now imagine you’re writing again, years later (with many books in between), a sexy, sassy and very hot read (I have affectionately nicknamed these boinkathons). You’re nearly at the end, when the supposed-to-be love-of-your-life you waited too many lonely years to meet, dumps you. You are a bawling miserable snotty mess of a person.

Sexy! Sassy! Hot Hot Hot!

It can be incredibly hard to push away life’s pain and concentrate on the page. So hard to write “I will love you forever” when you’re thinking, “Yeah, good luck with that.” Because for all our optimism about love, we romance authors are real people living real lives which sometimes dump on us hard truths that would never make it into our books.

So how do you keep on? You take on those characters like a professional actor takes on a role, you become them and you make writing a performance that isn’t about you. Actors create backstories, do their research, and come to inhabit their characters the same way writers do. And while an audience pays money to see an actor pretend to be someone else, a reader buys your book not to hear your story, but that of your characters. You owe them the same genuine intensity of experience.

So you blow your nose, turn all mirrors to the wall, sip hot tea for comfort, then leave yourself and your moods and become whoever it is you’re writing about. I would love someday to mount a camera on top of my monitor to record my facial expressions during particularly intense scenes. I bet it’s a hoot (and maybe a little frightening.)

If you’re wondering how I did, the second book I refer to above is the third book in an online dating trilogy (Dating E-Males) called Hot to the Touch, out in June 2011 from Harlequin Blaze. The first two books are Turn up the Heat, out this month, and Long, Slow Burn, out in April. Hope you enjoy them!

Turn Up The Heat

Vibrant and multifaceted party organizer Candy Graham is looking to forget her dating past, even if it means joining a dating website. But creating four different e-profiles to suit her personality could land Candy in hot water…or better yet, in the arms of her scorchin'-hot neighbor!

Journalist Justin Case suspects he has the scoop of a lifetime—women hired to lure men into online dating. Could Candy be part of some kind of e-romance scam? But try as he might, even he can't resist the temptation of sexy, sweet Candy…and one taste is definitely not enough! Excerpt


Isabel Sharpe was not born pen in hand like so many of her fellow authors. After she quit work in 1994 to stay home with her first-born son and nearly went out of her mind, she started writing. Yes, she was the clich'd bored housewife writing romance, but it was either that clich' or seduce the mailman, and her mailman was unattractive. After more than twenty novels for Harlequin, and the exciting new direction of women-focused stories for Avon/HarperCollins, Isabel admits her new mailman is gorgeous, but she's still happy with her choice.
You can find Isabel on Facebook and on her Website

Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Musings: Cabin Fever

My sense of ridiculous is easily amused these days. I’m basically stuck indoors. I can’t watch the antics of puppies—don’t have any—which is a good thing considering the weather. No teen angst to filter since he’s elsewhere and can’t amuse me with silly tales of tragedy and comedy, otherwise known as his friend’s life choices. Shame I don’t write YA. I have enough plots to write a library of books.

And I thought adults had screwed up love lives.

I’m reduced to finding my amusements elsewhere. Today it was sorting through my junk mail folder. Aside from half the African continent sending me emails starting with the words Dearest, can I trust you (you’re kidding, right?) or Urgent response needed in a business matter (which I take to mean rapid delete), I have people confused with regard to my gender. I mean, really, you’re a new woman in town and lonely and want to chat with a hot guy like me… about life (read sex here). Last time I checked my email wasn’t listed with any sites as a hot guy looking for an easy chick. No way the picture of me looks anything like a hot guy. At least the African continent has done their research and knows I’m a woman.

Then there is the whole confusion about Viagra. I really have the wrong equipment to be flaccid and I don’t need directions for personal Viagra usage. The closest I’m going to get to rock hard is when I hold the next Olivia Cunning book in my hands.

I need a fresh source of amusement or Spring.

With a foot of snow expected starting Monday afternoon, Spring feels like it's even further away. Sigh.

So, what’s been amusing you of late?

Upcoming guests and events:

Isabel Sharpe--Turn Up The Heat, Karen Wayslowski, Darcy and Fitzwilliam.

I will be running Valentine short stories and I have some good ones, check back.