Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Heartfelt Greeting from Karen Rock


Happy New Year everyone and what joy 2013 will bring to the editors, writers and fans of Harlequin Heartwarming!  In reading my fellow authors’ upcoming novel blurbs, I’m taken with the inspiring and deeply romantic stories they’ll be sharing in the months ahead.  I’m thrilled to be a part of this talented group and a romance line that upholds what is most important to me, unconditional love, family, friendships, and the traditional values that give our lives meaning and purpose. Writing novels that incorporate all of those qualities is a dream come true.

When I was a child, books were not a major part of my household. So imagine my dismay when, after being allowed to attend my first sleepover, my 13-year-old hostess pointed to a bookshelf of HARLEQUIN PRESENTS, told me to grab one, and proceeded to read. I was crushed but determined not to go home. I’d moved recently and was thrilled to make a new friend. Surely Lynette couldn’t read all night? But she did… and strangely enough, so did I. From then on, I became an avid fan of Harlequin romance and credit it for making me the strong reader, and English teacher, I am today. Yet another reason to be proud of writing books that mothers feel good about sharing with their daughters.

Through the years, my grandmother passed along her Harlequin books to me. Sometimes she’d give me paper grocery bags full of novels! Talking about our favorite stories and authors was a special bond we shared. To this day, some of my best memories are sitting in her warm kitchen, learning how to make family recipes, and chatting about those uplifting romances. Whenever I had boyfriend troubles, she always said, “Karen, don’t cast your pearls before swine.” And by that she meant, don’t settle for any boy- wait for a special love with a deserving young man- the kind we read about and adored. On my wedding day, she confided that my husband Greg looked like Lynn Graham’s hero, Alex, in the VERANCHETTI MARRIAGE. It was huge compliment from my choosy Nonna and I treasure it to this day now that she’s passed from my life.

My opportunity to write for our outstanding editors, Victoria Curran and Laura Barth, came when my wonderful agent, Barbara Rosenberg, sent out an email about this new opportunity. At the time, I was focused on writing a Young Adult romance series, CAMP BOYFRIEND, with my sister-in-law, Joanne Rock, a talented and popular Blaze author. While my mind was occupied imagining the romantic possibilities involved in bonfires and late night swims, an idea for a Heartwarming took root that I couldn’t shake. I’ve always enjoyed talking to couples and hearing how they’ve found lasting love. One couple’s inspiring story touched me the most- my close friends and neighbors, Marty and Kathy. They met in nursing school, started dating, then discovered Marty had Leukemia. Kathy surprised Marty by staying by his side, helping and supporting him through everything. Marty calls Kathy the love of his life and the strongest woman he knows for not giving up on him. They married shortly after they received their nursing degrees and now, eighteen years later, Marty is cancer free and they have three beautiful children. What their amazing journey taught me is that illness can never conquer true love. My September, 2013 release, THE FOREVER WISH, is inspired by their beautiful love story.

I pitched my Heartwarming idea to my agent who loved it so much that she sent it directly to Victoria. Victoria wrote back that she liked it as well and wanted to see three chapters. All of these emails were happening, unbeknownst to me, as I worked with my students. What a joyful surprise when I read the news later that day. I quickly got to work on those chapters and heard back, a month later, that Harlequin Heartwarming wanted the novel. What a thrill!

In THE FOREVER WISH, we meet Christie Bates who has worked hard to overcome the pain of her brother's death as a teen, a path that led to her work as a grief counselor. When she meets cancer survivor Eli Roberts, she is touched by his obvious devotion to his children, all the more so after learning his wife left him during his treatments.

Yet no matter how drawn she is to Eli, Christie knows better than to risk her heart to the kind of loss that brought her to her knees once before. Except that, during the course of their friendship, Eli's kids have already found a place in her heart. And Eli's strength of spirit has taught her to live - and love- again. Soon Christie begins to see that love and family are worth any risk- even when forever isn't guaranteed.

I hope you’ll like my novel as much as I enjoyed writing it. It is lovely to meet you and I look forward to hearing your stories. To learn more about me or to talk to me, please leave a comment or visit my website at www.karenrock.com . Also, follow me on twitter for day to day updates at www.twitter.com/karenrock5 . It’d be great to hear from you J.

To celebrate Harlequin Heartwarming, I'm giving away my copy of Jodi O'Donnell's COUNTESS IN COWBOY BOOTS along with two friendship bracelets. I loved reading this Heartwarming book about an ex-countess who returns home to Texas and meets her real Prince Charming... and the bracelets are super cute! The winner will be selected from those of you kind enough to comment on this post. Good luck!
 

46 comments:

  1. Karen - lucky you to have had Harlequins at 13. I didn't discover them until my thirties (Yes, I'm a lot older than you are!) I used to save money from groceries to buy Harlequins - sometimes sacrificing chocolate. That's how serious my habit was.

    So looking forward to reading the Forever Wish. Sounds like a keeper.

    Muriel

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  2. Hi Muriel :) Wow! You are serious when it comes to romance!!Giving up chocolate for your love of reading Harlequin is the ultimate sacrifice, but I'd do it too (though I might cheat and eat one of those chocolate calcium chews since I must have my fix:)But I know what you mean. Reading love stories enriches your life more than food ever could! Maybe we should start the Heartwarming Diet- I'd be on board after my holiday gain! We'll call ourselves "THE HEARTWARMERS". Thanks for your comment, Muriel. Looking forward to your upcoming books!

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  3. Hi Karen, I just love this story. It's always nice to read authors pub stories and this one is so moving.

    My love of reading started young, too. I haven't stopped since.

    Looking forward to reading more from you.

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    1. Thank you so much! I've very appreciative of your feedback :) I wanted to write a story that moved me the way one of my all time favorite books did- CHRISTY by Catherine Marshall. The pure love that transcended all in that brilliant novel was so profound that it has stayed with me all these years.

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  5. I loved reading about your writing journey! I'm excited about this new line, and I look forward to getting my hands on your story when it's released.

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    1. Thanks, Julie! I'm thrilled about the new line and I'm so proud to be amongst such talented writers with such moving stories to tell :)

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  6. Thanks so very much for sharing this moving story with me. Looking forward to reading more from you in the future. :-D

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    1. Thank you, Edward! Your comment means so much :)

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  8. Love this post!! I grew up reading Harlequins with my mom and I still love sharing them with her, and now also with my mother-in-law and husband's grandmother :) So many fun memories spent discussing our favorite romances!

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    1. Awwwww- that's such a sweet memory, Rachel, and I love that we have that common! I'm guessing many families share that tradition; books are such a great way for generations to bond :)

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  9. Karen, as a fan of this book from the moment you shared your idea, I am so excited to countdown until the release day. The Forever Wish is a beautiful story that captures the idea of "Heartwarming" so well. I'm not at all surprised that savvy editors like Victoria and Laura wanted to put this one in the line! Congratulations on your debut book and I look forward to celebrating all the exciting career milestones that 2013 will bring for you.

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    1. Oh- Thank you so much, Joanne! That comment was every bit as sweet as you :) I'm so excited for what's ahead for me with Heartwarming. Like so many of the iconic lines in Harlequin, such as Blaze, it's all about the magic of finding your one and only. Thank you so much for reading this book from start to finish. I learned so much from your expert eye and advice!

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  10. Karen, your journey to a love of books and writing is inspiring, and I'm sure your newest novel is poignant and
    heartfelt. (I'm so glad your friend recovered.)


    My mother has always loved reading more than anything, and
    has encouraged me in that area.

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    1. Thanks, Dale! Like so many afflicted with cancer, there is never any guarantees except the love we share with them. Ultimately, it will outlast anything illness can take away. I love how your mother encouraged you to become a lifelong reader. The role of families in supporting each other this way is so meaningful. That's why I'm especially proud to write for a line intended for mothers and daughters to share :)

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  11. I really like this article you have pub on this page. You summed up part of your life and accomplishments you have achieved successfully. I love your story and I hope you continue to reap many more successes in your career. You are a very talented writer.

    Congratulations Karen! Looking forward to read your books and learn more from you.

    Cristian

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    1. Thanks so much, Christian! I'm so glad you like the story :) I certainly loved writing it! Take care.

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  12. Great post, Karen! We're so pleased to have you in the Heartwarming lineup, and I know readers are going to fall in love with THE FOREVER WISH.

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    1. Thank you so much, Laura! It's been wonderful working with such a talented, thoughtful editor who knows how to bring out the very best in her writers! I look forward to our future projects together :) You are as inspiring as the Heartwarming line.

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  13. Hi Karen! I'm SO excited about your Heartwarming debut. I'm a long time fan of Harlequins and it's exciting to have a new author's work to check out - your story stounds wonderful!!! Congrats again!

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    1. Thank you, Cathy! I've been a fan of your amazing novels and it means so much that you are excited about my work :) Hope to see you at RWA!

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  14. I found Harlequins when I was in high school, from a good friend's big sister. When she found out I was a bookworm, she handed me a whole box. I think they were presents, too LOL

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    1. I love that story, Pamela! I think lots of Harlequin fans have someone in their lives to thank for passing on these incredible books... and we're lucky to be in a position to do the same :)

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    2. And thank you, Pamela, for all of your hard work in setting up this blog for us!!!

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  15. Welcome to the world of writing Karen. I found harlequins the old fashioned way I stumbled across them in the library one day when I was looking for my usual choice of court room drama,they had moved the shelves and I ended up not being able to my eyes of the cover of a Melanie Milburne book,and just like that I was addicted to her writing and soon discovered other authors from the same line. Since then I am a all out romance addict.I wish you many happy sales for the future!

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    1. I love your story, Desere! It's great hearing about how others found Harlequin :) Bet you didn't think you'd be leaving the library with a new love... and how lucky that you found it. If we are romance addicts then I hope we never kick the habit! Thanks so much for your comment.

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  16. Hi Karen. Love your personal story and also the blurb for your debut Heartwarming! This is definitely going on my 'must look for it' list! And like you, some of my most cherished childhood memories revolve around being able to discuss favorite books with those near and dear to me.

    Welcome to the Harlequin family - I look forward to reading THE FOREVER WISH and future titles from you.

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    1. Thanks so much for welcoming me to the Harlequin family, Winnie :) It's so uplifting to hear how many of us share special memories about how our affection for Harlequin began. And I agree with you- those family memories are ones to be cherished. It's nice to know that we write for a company that connects us all in such personal ways. Your HANDPICKED HUSBAND is on my "to read" list too! What a great premise and I have title envy :)

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    2. Karen, It's my editor who takes credit for that title - I'm very title challenged :). And I love it too - except for the time I had a reader mistakenly refer to it as HENPECKED HUSBAND! LOL

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    3. HENPECKED HUSBAND- LOL! That's too funny. I think I would buy with that title just so I could show it to my hubbie and say- "see- you're not alone... and have you cleaned out the garage yet?" haha.

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    4. Oh Winnie, this was a Burst Out Loud Laugh!! Henpecked... now that is too cute.

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  17. Karen,
    You did a fabulous job on your blog. I hate to have to follow you tomorrow, because I told Pam I have no idea how to put up a photo, and heavens, I take such horrid ones, not sure I want to post one. Looking forward to everyone's books. More great writers to put on my "must read" list. Roz

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    1. Thank you, Roz! I'm looking forward to reading your post tomorrow. Your romance writing career is amazing and inspiring. You are on my "must read" list :) As for pictures- if you need help email and I'd be happy to show you how.

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  18. I add my kudos, Karen. Imagine how I feel, following you and then Roz! And after Syndi's sparkly beginning, too! Well done, everybody!

    Muriel

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    1. Thank you so much, Muriel! We do make a great team- "The Heartwarmers" :) Pam has done an amazing job setting this blog up for us! I'm looking forward to reading your post.

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  19. Congrats on your debut book, Karen! What a great story--can't wait to read the fictional version.

    All the best,
    Steph

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    1. Thank you for your warm wishes, Stephanie :) My friends have long inspired me and I'm proud to have written a story that captures the special love they share.

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  20. Karen,

    It is always great to be able to write from your heart. Continue to pour your passion into your work.
    Wishing you the best!

    Steady,
    Marquin

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    1. You are right, Marquin... writing from the heart gives an authenticity and conviction to your work that makes the creative process flow. Thank you so much for your warm wishes :)

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  21. Karen, I'm in love with your story. Is it September yet? LOL My mom bought Harlequins and put them in a bag to give to my aunt who I think bought Silhouettes. Then they'd switch books, and I was the happy reader of both! It's amazing how the bug gets us early and doesn't let go :)

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    1. The Harlequin Bag... it should be a thing... I love that your mom and her sister traded books this way and then you benefited :) What a great memory and I bet, like me, you're thinking- wow- am I now writing the very books that inspired me (and still do!) I can't wait to read TRUE LOVE! It looks amazing. My book is out September 2013. Thanks so much for your kind words about it! I'm honored that you want to read it :)

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  22. Wonderful news about your Heartwarming debut, Karen. Congrats!

    Lol, Harlequin romances are addictive, innit? I discovered them as a teen, too - these (at the time, we thought them to be be 'naughty'!) naughty books describing love and lots of kissing, where every woman got her very own hero. I've been hooked ever since.

    The idea for your story strikes close to me as I'm a 2x cancer survivor, and I love reading about stories where people overcome their odds and beat this parasite. Cannot wait for the book to come out - it's going on my wish list already. :)

    XOXO

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    1. Haha- I always thought it was funny when there were certain covers that my Nonna told me to hide from Mom... she's was always a woman ahead of her time :)

      And Zee- your cancer battle is inspiring! A 2x survivor means you are a cancer warrior! Like you, I'm inspired by stories where people overcome the odds. I'm honored that you want to read THE FOREVER WISH! xoxo

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  23. Congratulations to Julie Jarnigan for winning my giveaway of my copy of Jodi O'Donnells's COUNTESS IN COWBOY BOOTS (loved) and the friendship bracelets (so cute!) I'll reach out to you, Julie, through your Google plus account or on Twitter. If you haven't heard from me, please send your addy to my contact form on www.karenrock.com and I'll mail you your prize! YAY!

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