This week I’d like to welcome Karen Dobbins to In PRO-suit of Publication, a weekly interview series with members of Romance Writer’s of America’s The Beau Monde who are in the ‘actively submitting’ stage of their writing career.

Always a story-weaver at heart, Karen wrote her first novel at the suggestion of a close friend (Huzzah for good friends!). Since then, she has completed two more novels and currently has two in the works. Her writing brightens the sometimes darkly atmospheric days of the Pacific Northwest. In addition to being a valued member of the Beau Monde, Karen belongs to RWA and to two critique groups. She is also the mother of three kids and three cats!

Wow, you are busy. In the spirit of efficiency, will you share the twitter-pitch of your favorite finished manuscript? (140 characters or less)

This is why Twitter scares me—I’m too wordy. Nevertheless here’s my attempt for my third novel, Never Too Late:

A returning spy must stop an assassination even as he’s thrown into a triangle of passion, suspicion and betrayal with his former love and her fiancé.

Ooh, a love triangle, how intriguing! What to you love most about that story?

I love that the hero and heroine, who were originally engaged on a very short acquaintance, recognized the seed of love between them, even though they were too young and inexperienced to follow through on it at the time. Then, even though they separated, they each kept that seed alive somewhere deep inside and when they are reunited that love grows more meaningful and powerful the more they are together.

A love triangle and a reunion romance! There is something about reunion romances is so satisfying, it sounds like you’ve crafted a fabulous journey for your hero and heroine (not-to-mention your future readers!)

Speaking of journeys, with three completed manuscripts under your belt, you must have some important information for other aspiring writers out there! Would you describe an ah-ha writing moment and its trigger for us?

My biggest ah-ha moment actually started my writing career. I’ve always had stories in my head complete with plots, main characters, secondary characters, settings, dialogue, etc. but I always thought it would be too hard to try to write the stories down. It wasn’t until my best friend said something along the lines of “You should write a romance novel” that I actually felt challenged to try and I’m so glad I did. Don’t get me wrong, writing IS difficult. More than I ever thought it would be, but it’s fun too and keeps me intellectually challenged. Now, I unfortunately let that lesson (you can’t grow if you don’t try) slip along the way. I always told myself I could never write a short story (my 3 completed novels are all over 90K words) but I recently decided to take the challenge to write one—and guess what? I can do it!

After the fear and hard work comes the sense of accomplishment! Hooray for completing a short story.

So, as a reader, what’s your favorite Romance and why?

Like any Regency historical romance author I love Pride and Prejudice but another favorite Austen novel is Emma. I know some people don’t like the age difference between Emma and Mr. Knightley but it doesn’t bother me. I love the way they spar with words and how they aren’t afraid to be honest with each other. But my two favorite things about this book are 1) when Mr. Knightley asks the snubbed Harriet Smith to dance (be still my wallflower heart and it means even more to me because I know my husband would have done the same thing—yay for true gentlemen!) and 2) when Mr. Knightley agrees to move into Emma’s house in consideration of her father which tells me this is a man who understands his woman’s needs.

Emma is my favorite too! Not only is it a beautiful romance, it’s a lovely coming-of-age story. Austen is so subtle when redeeming the impatient side of Emma and I absolutely agree with your two points.  

Do you have a favorite modern work or author?

One other romance I have recently enjoyed is the one in Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey mystery series, set in the Victorian era. It’s a much subtler romance, as they usually are in mysteries, but it’s a powerful one nonetheless.

The first line of Silent in the Grave is one of my favorite first lines of all time! (Readers-you’ll have to go check it out, I won’t spill the beans here. If you haven’t read it though, it’s a master class in end-of-chapter hooks.)

Before you go, do you have any other thoughts/advice on pursuing publication?

Rejection hurts, no matter who it comes from or where you are in your writing career. The key is to just let it sting for a short while and then move on. Take your anger or bitterness or despair and let it drive you to query another agent or write a better story or edit your current story to make it shine. Don’t wallow in the pain of rejection because there will undoubtedly be more along the way and before long you could be mired too deep to get yourself out.

Excellent advice! Thank you so much for being here, Karen! I enjoyed getting to know you better. 

Readers, feel free to post comments for Karen. As usual, one randomly chosen commenter will win an e-copy of a romance written by a Beau Monde author.  This week’s featured author is Blair Bancroft. The winner will receive e-copies of three of her traditional regencies: Lady Silence, A Gamble on Love and A Season for Love, all recently re-released by Ms. Bancroft on Smashwords.

13 Responses to In PRO-suit of Publication: an Interview with Ms. Karen Dobbins

  • Hi Karen!  Loved the picture of the gorgeous manor on your website.  I can sympathize with your location…lots of cloudy days in Cleveland (but summers are nice, thank God!)  I love reunion romances…look forward to reading yours one day:)  Best of luck! 

  • Hi, Karen!  I had a similar a-ha moment that helped me realize I was meant to be a writer when I realized telling yourself elaborate stories as a way to pass the time is UNUSUAL.  I spun out some elaborate what-if fictional scenario in a conversation with a roommate, and she said something like, “I don’t know how you can think of something like that,” and my response was, “I do this all the time, I just usually don’t talk about it–are you saying you DON’T?”

    I’m still not sure what non-storytellers do when they’re bored, if they can’t world-build their imaginary worlds or talk to their invisible friends.

  • Thanks, Susanna.  Yeah, who knew that others didn’t spin bedtime stories (or movies) in their heads before going to sleep?  My husband always knows when I go off into my imaginary world because of the glassy look on my face.

  • Thanks for stopping by Miranda!  I “borrowed” that picture on my website from Wikipedia Commons.  We are still trapped beneath cold grey clouds here in Seattle but I’m told the golden sunshine is arriving tomorrow.

  • Just checked out Wikimedia Commons–what a cool site!

  • Hi Karen,

    Having read Never Too Late as well as some of your other work, I can honestly say – it’s just a matter of time. Hang in there! Before you know it, you’ll be out of PRO and into PAN 🙂


  • Thanks for stopping by, Kristine, and for your continued support!

  • Hi, Karen!  I’ve also read your work and agree with Kristine that it’s just a matter of time.  And I love your Twitter pitch for Never Too Late!

  • Thanks, Alyssa.  It took much reworking and counting of characters to get that pitch done!

  • Hi Karen – even your voice, in this interview, tells me I would love to read your work!  The comments below confirm it!  Can’t wait until you are ‘on the shelves!’   Also, loved your comment about trying things you don’t think you can do – great challenge!

  • I was walking down the street with my daughter and made up a whole scenario for a woman who passed us and my daughter said, “Don’t do that, mom!  You would do that when we were kids and I blieved you!”  Guess she didn’t get that gene 😉

  • Great interview! Karen, I know you to be a very talented writer and finding an editor who loves your work as much as I do is just a matter of time.

  • Thank you to Karen for being here! Yesterday’s winner was Miranda Laisson! I’ll be in touch Miranda!

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