|Kari Lee Townsend, Author|
Monday, February 25, 2013
KARI LYNN TOWNSEND AND TROUBLE IN THE TAROT
Please welcome Kari Lee Townsend to today's blog. Kari lives in central New York with her understanding husband, her three busy boys, and her oh-so-dramatic daughter.She is the National Bestselling Author, Agatha and RT Reviewer's Choice Award nominee for her Fortune Teller Mystery series. Kari also writes romance under the name Kari Lee Harmon. Small towns, mystical elements, quirky characters, and a few chuckles along the way are what her books are all about.
Caroline: Please share something about your childhood.
Kari: I have an older sister and a younger brother, and we grew up all over the place with a dad who was in the air force while we were young. Eventually he retired and became an air traffic controller for the FAA, so most of my older years were spent in northern New York. I have always loved to read, but I also grew up playing soccer and being a cheerleader J I am now married for almost 24 years with four fabulous children of my own: 3 teenage boys and 1 darling diva.
Caroline: You’re an eclectic writer. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?
Kari: I write both mysteries and romance, as well as some YA, so I have a lot of favorite authors. Basically, I love to try new things in both my reading tastes and with what I write. Pretty much anything with humor and romance is a must for me, even in my mysteries. I especially love Janet Evanovich and Donna Andrews.
Caroline: What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?
Kari Relax…what’s that? I repeat, I have 4 kids J When I do have the rare occasion to relax, I love bubble baths, a great book, candlelight, country music, and Pinot Grigio. As for hobbies, I am a picture fanatic. So if you’re ever at a conference with me, look out! Can you say candid camera? Haha.
Caroline: Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?
Kari: You know, I love when people actually do have quotes they love, but I really don’t. I love a lot of quotes, but always forget to write them down and then mess them up when trying to retell them to someone. Basically, I think life is way too short to do anything other than live, love, and laugh hard…there’ll be plenty of time to sleep later. And one of my friends always says, “When life hands you lemons, reach for the tequila and call me.” I want to enjoy this crazy ride we’re on to the fullest for as long as I can, and I am always up for trying new things. Never EVER let fear stand in your way.
Caroline: Great advice. How long have you been writing?
Kari: A very long time. It took me 14 years to get published, but then my agent landed me two 3-book deals within 5 months of each other. All because I finally “got” it, and quit reworking my baby to death, and tried new things. But I don’t think those years were a waste. I think everything happens for a reason and makes us who we are. I probably couldn’t have handled the demands of publishing before it happened since I was a little busy having babies and getting my bachelors and then masters. We get what we want when we’re ready for it, and not a second before J So when success comes your way, enjoy it, people. Because you never know when it can be taken away just as quickly.
Caroline: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?
Kari: For years, the only time I had free to write was during “nap” time. To this day I accomplish the most after lunch and before the kids get home from school. I am not a night owl, so I get up really early to get the kids off to school. During that time, I check email (have coffee), check social networks (have coffee), check blogs (have coffee)…you get the picture. And then I am sick of sitting, so I make myself exercise (most days), then shower, pick up house, figure out dinner, and finally after lunch, I am ready to write. I need silence, a diet coke or pepsi ( I actually switch when I’m bored) and my laptop. By 3pm the kids are home, and I’m ready to play mom, wife, taxi, etc. until 8pm when I’m ready for that Pinot!
Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?
Kari: I always used to be a panzer, but with my mysteries, I find I have to be a plotter. At least a partial plotter. I love the thrill of writing by the seat of my pants. But I also know I need suspects and clues and red herrings, and I can get way off base if I don’t have some overall idea of where I’m going. I tend to figure out some “main” crucial things that I need to happen, and then I plot as I go. About 3 chapters at a time, so those crazy twists and turns can still inspire me and keep me excited as they pop up throughout the book.
Caroline: I think that makes you a plotzer. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?
Kari: I am a people watcher. I love to study dialogue, looks, quirks, etc. So bits of those always go into my books. Sometimes news clips or articles in a newspaper will make me think, “Wow, what a great idea!” And still, other times I actually model a character after a real life person on purpose. Take Granny Gert for instance. She is modeled after my late Grandmother Gertrude in her looks, but a lot of her funny actions are so my mom! I love the idea of immortalizing them, and plan to do that with my husband’s Grandma Tootsie in the next book. She is 98, lives alone, and is a total spitfire. I think Granny Gert needs a new friend!
Caroline: I’ve used my mom and her sister in a few of my books. Do you set daily writing goals?
Kari: A long time ago I learned to figure out exactly how fast I write, and then figure out a schedule that worked for me. I write 4 pages an hour for about 3 hours a day. In a perfect world, that would be 12 pages a day. I am realistic and know that really means about 10, which in my mysteries is one chapter. I write Mon through Fri 5 days a week, so that’s 50 pages a week, or 5 chapters. I take the evenings and weekends off because, I repeat again, I have 4 children. When I’m being good, I follow this schedule, so it really only takes me about 6 to 8 weeks to write a book, and then another month to polish. When I’m not being good, I go on writing marathons and finish a book in 3 weeks. So not pretty, people! Not to mention I am getting way too old for that, so you can probably guess what this new year’s resolution was…stick to the damn schedule!
Caroline: That should be all writers’ resolution. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?
Kari: If my readers walk away saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming,” then I have done my job. I want to keep them guessing. If my readers walk away also saying on a dreamy sigh, “Awww, Sunny and Mitch are so cute together. I really hope they make it,” then I am pleased. If my readers walk away saying all of that with a smile on their face and a chuckle as they add, “That scene about (fill in the blank) was sooo funny,” then I am tickled pink. I love a great mystery, a bit of romance, and a chuckle or two along the way.
Caroline: That’s my idea of a great book. What long-term plans do you have for your career?
Kari: The market is crazy right now. Scary, yet so exciting. I plan to be everywhere. I think it’s important to take risks, try new things, and diversify yourself. I want to continue to write traditional books like my cozy mysteries, self-publish books like my romances that I’ve poured my heart and soul into, and be with more than one publisher at a time. It took me way too long to get published to ever put all my eggs in one basket. Cliché yes, but oh so true.
Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?
Kari: I am working on my next Fortune Teller Mystery, PERIL IN THE PALM, as well as my next self-pubbed romance, book 2 of the Comfort Club Series, and yes, book three of my YA Digital Diva series. And I’m having a ball every step of the way.
Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Kari: Never EVER give up! But…don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. You never know what you might be good at unless you give it a try. And never spend all your time trying to “fix” your baby. Have something else in case an editor says they love your writing but what else do you have. You always want to have “something else.” And finally, figure out realistically how many pages you can write a week so you won’t agree to something you can’t produce. Be honest with yourself, and then stick to whatever you set aside as your writing time. The only people who don’t get published are the ones who quit. If you want it badly enough, it WILL happen. You just have to keep at it and pay attention.
Caroline: What’s a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you?
Kari: My hubby is this totally fit body builder guy, yet I am the adrenaline junkie of the family and will try anything dare devilish like sky diving, hang gliding, zip lining, scuba diving, bungee jumping, etc. Yet I am scared to death of rodents. Can’t even look at a dead mouse or rat. Truly petrified. Love country music, yet love hard rock, too. And LOVE to read Scottish Historicals, but don’t have what it takes to write them.
Caroline: What’s something about you that would surprise or shock readers?
Kari: I’m not really shocking, sad to say. I was pretty much the boring, ultimate good girl, but I have the exact life I’ve always wanted and couldn’t be happier. I have been with my husband since I was 18. We didn’t marry until 21, and no, we didn’t have our oldest child until we were 26 J He just makes me laugh and still does. And he and all our children are Catholic, but I am Methodist. Gasp…shocking! That’s about it, folks.
Caroline: Is your book a series?
Kari: This is the 3rd book in the Fortune Teller Mystery series, and I have at least 3 more planned. Hey, you never know. I guess I’ll wait and see what the characters tell me they want. When they say they’re done, then they’re pretty much done. Then again, readers are very persuasive people. And I love making sure my characters grow and develop. I know the mystery is the focal point, but I hate it when the leads act exactly the same in every book. Oh, and all of my Fortune Teller books focus on a different psychic tool, which keeps things interesting and gives me something new to research and learn about. Not to mention an immortal cat that adds a lot of mystery and fun in every book.
Caroline: Can you give readers a blurb about your book?
Kari: Here’s the blurb for TROUBLE IN THE TAROT
For psychic Sunshine Meadows, sometimes fortunes can be deceiving…
Lately Sunny has been experiencing a period of big opportunity: her business in Divinity, New York, is thriving, and Detective Mitch Stone has finally agreed to take Sunny on a date. But thanks to her clairvoyant abilities, Sunny knows better than anyone that life deals out bad cards along with the good. When Sunny agrees to read tarot cards at the annual summer Solstice Carnival, she meets her Granny Gert’s “arch nemesis” Fiona Atwater, and is overcome by a vision of Fiona in a violent argument. Sunny knows trouble is brewing when Granny and Fiona start having squabbles all over town. But the fighting comes to a head when a local baker gets run over by a big white Cadillac—and Granny and Fiona are found at the crime scene. Sunny knows she should step aside and let Mitch handle the investigating, but she’s not about to ignore her visions and leave her granny’s life in fate’s hands…
Caroline: Sounds like fun. How about an excerpt?
Kari: Here’s the excerpt for TROUBLE IN THE TAROT:
“The cards predict a very long week ahead of us, Morty,” I said as I laid out my fortune-telling supplies on a table inside the gazebo in Mini Central Park.
My big, white, beautiful, arrogant cat scowled and gave me a look—as much as a feline can give a look—that said, Duh! Ya think?
“How did I let her talk me into this?” I asked.
Cat or no cat, his scowl deepened, and I swore I could see the brow he didn’t have arch sky-high.
“Fine. Not me, us,” I added, making a set of air quotes. “And don’t give me that look, mister. You can’t say no to her any more than I can.”
I shook my head at the ridiculous traditional, turban-style fortune-teller hat she’d tied to his head because I’d refused to wear one. I was a real psychic and simply used fortune-telling tools to help interpret my visions. I didn’t care to add to the stigma already attached to my profession.
As usual, Granny was clueless and made it clear she thought I was being silly. She thought Morty looked adorable and that his attire added to our authenticity. I didn’t have the energy to argue, so I’d let it go. At least it was an improvement over the god-awful bow ties she usually dressed him up in.
Morty rolled his jet black eyes, leapt onto the railing, and stretched out in the early morning sunshine. I could see he would be absolutely no help whatsoever.
Caroline: Where can readers find your books?
Kari: If you go to my website, I have a book page for my mysteries with all the buy links for the latest book here http://www.karileetownsend.com/10.html
Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?
Kari: I can be found at my website www.karileetownsend.com and my blog www.mysteriesandmargaritasblogspot.com or www.killercharacters.com and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/karileetownsendAUTHOR or Twitter http://twitter.com/karileetownsend
Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?
Kari: Just that I love to hear from new readers, so drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I promise I’ll get back to you. Also that I wish you the best of luck in whatever your endeavors might be. Happy reading J