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An Interview with Karen Wiesner

Conducted by Dawn Seewer
October, 2002

With her numerous titles and expertise in ebooks, Karen Wiesner is certainly making a splash in the electronic publishing world. She is the author of several successful series and is publishing her acclaimed work on electronic publishing through Hard Shell Word Factory. We spoke with Karen about her career, her upcoming projects and her thoughts about the future of electronic publishing.

FF: Tell us how you got started writing? Was it always something you wanted to do?

Karen: I think I was a writer from out of the womb. Spinning fantasies was the biggest part of my childhood, so it was no surprise when I wrote my first book when I was 10 years old–an unusually sexy romance that my mother promptly made me tear up. By the time I was 16, I’d written almost a dozen books and short stories and countless poems. I had my own fan club in high school.

FF: You have quite an impressive list of titles under your belt. Can you tell us a little bit about your work?

Karen: At the end of this year, I’ll have the following published works: 4 writer’s reference, 6 mainstream/contemporary romances, 3 romantic suspenses, 1 paranormal romance, 1 romantic comedy novella, 1 poetry anthology and 2 children’s stories.

In addition, I have 2 writer’s reference, 5 children’s stories and 5 mainstream romances contracted for. My agent is trying to sell 2 straight (i.e. not romance) mysteries (part of a series that I’ve written with mystery author Christine Spindler www.christinespindler.com), a writer’s reference, and I’ve just completed the first draft of the leading book in a new romantic suspense (action/adventure) series I’ve outlined.

Each genre I write in appeals to me for different reasons. I love romance because you can explore relationships, as well as multiple characters, in-depth. People are at their most interesting when their “inner fiber” is tested. Mystery and suspense are just plain exciting because I love puzzles.I love to lay all the pieces on the table before the reader, mess up those pieces and then slowly bring each one in so the reader can put them together… hopefully not completely until the end, of course. Paranormal…I love having no boundaries on my imagination. As long as I can make it believable, I can create it and bring it to chilling life. Children’s stories are fun and easy to write for me. I love seeing my son’s face when we read my stories and hearing him talk about them.

Poetry…well, poetry is a part of the soul and it has its own rhythm. Releasing it into a poem is like a balm that I really don’t expect anyone else to full understand, but if a few people enjoy what comes of it that’s the best. I write nonfiction–writer’s reference, to be more specific–but I don’t enjoy it as much. It’s a lot of work and, completely opposite of my fiction writing, I can re-write something a million times and I’m still not completely satisfied with it. That’s frustrating. Nonfiction takes me away from fiction, but I realize that I need to do it, that it’s valuable to other writers, so I do it.

I love all of these genres and I don’t see the point in just sticking to one–not when I’m having so much fun and actually having these works accepted for publication. I’m also very happy that every genre I’ve written in so far has won me rave reviews, awards and/or nominations. I also have plans to write young adult novels, horror, science fiction and gothic in the future.

FF: If you had to pick one book that was the most enjoyable to write, which would it be?

Karen: Of my published works, I’d have to say RELUCTANT HEARTS was the most fun to write. It really did write itself. I wrote this sprawling work in less than a month, after about of week of outlining it from start to finish, and it required very little editing and polishing to complete. The characters in this series have actually been with me since I was a teenager, and the books I’ve written about them…well, they weren’t publishable, but they did establish of love of the characters firmly inside me. I think that the relationships I have with the characters really shows through in the writing–Kathy Boswell, a reviewer for Romantic Times, said of RELUCTANT HEARTS: “This book captivated me, hook, line and sinker. The storyline is compelling and I sensed a true connection between the author and her characters, who grow both in years and maturity within the read.” I loved the diversity of the characters as well as experiencing the first fruits a series that will focus on each of these interesting characters in turn on their journey toward healing.

Of my unpublished works, I’d have to say TEARS ON STONE, the second book in the Falcon’s Bend Series (you can find out more about this book and the series at http://www.angelfire.com/super2/spindler/efalcon1.html) is a favorite of mine. Again, I wrote it in a very short amount of time and the characters–the new as well as the mainstays of the series–captivated me completely.

FF: In your opinion, what was the hardest part of writing your most recent release “Reluctant Hearts”?

Karen: The Wounded Warriors Series focuses on a group of friends who basically grow up together. Although their lives take different paths, they’re all bound together by their friendship. I’m not one to shy away from painful and/or controversial subjects, as my readers well know.

The Wounded Warriors Series will push the envelope even further than I usually push it. In Book 1, Wendy and Paul’s story, many harsh realities are dealt with, one of which is trust and how fragile it is. Another is endometriosis, a medical condition faced by far too many women. Writing about a subject like endometriosis is risky in a romance novel, even a mainstream romance like RELUCTANT HEARTS. Romance novels tend to romanticize most aspects of being a woman, like enjoying one’s own sexuality, the emotional and physical feelings associated with lovemaking and childbirth. This book deals with having a medical condition that could make being a woman not so romantic–a controversial concept, to say the least. So it was a tricky balance to keep the romance at the forefront and to fully explore the horrors of a disease like endometriosis so that it was starkly realistic.

In addition to that hardship, the book had to be started when the heroine was a teenager. That part was a really fine balance because, again, it’s pretty controversial to feature sexually active teenagers, even though we all know–and maybe justifiably want to shy away from the fact that–it’s realistic.

FF: And the best part?

Karen: As I said, RELUCTANT HEARTS is the first in a series of books that have been with me for over 15 years. When I decided I was going to write these books for publication–instead of just for myself–I was worried that I might not be able to capture the irresistible essense of these characters I’ve known and loved for so long. The best part was realizing that the first book at least lived up to everything I’ve ever imagined for this series. Even more than before, I fell in love with Wendy and Paul. I also love hearing that other people (reviewers and readers) have taken them to heart.

FF: Can you tell us a little bit about your next project?

Karen: My upcoming releases include:

-TAKING RESPONSIBILITY BUILDS TRUST (Making Good Choices Series) by Karen Sue Wiesner; illustrations by Robert Beers; a children’s book coming October 2003 from Writer’s Exchange E-Publishing

-CODY KNOWS by Karen Sue Wiesner with Linda Derkez; illustrations by Candace Hardy; a children’s book coming Late 2003 from Writer’s Exchange E-Publishing

-ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING Q&A (the compilation of my award-winning Inkspot columns) by Karen S.Wiesner; writer’s reference coming Late 2003 from Hard Shell Word Factory

-ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING The Definitive Guide {The Most Complete Resource to Non-Subsidy E-Publishing}, 2003 edition by Karen S. Wiesner; writer’s reference coming January 2003 from Hard Shell Word Factory

-WEAVE YOUR WEB {The Promotional Companion to ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING The Definitive Guide} by Karen S. Wiesner; writer’s reference coming January 2003 from Hard Shell Word Factory

-WAITING FOR AN ECLIPSE (Book 2 of the Wounded Warriors Series) by Karen Wiesner; mainstream romance coming 2003 from Hard Shell Word Factory

Currently, I’ve completed the first draft of a romantic suspense (action/adventure) called NO ORDINARY LOVE, which is the leading book in The Agency Series. NOL will be marketed exclusively to mass market publishers through my agent. The Agency Series will be something of a cross between La Femme Nikita (movie and the TV series), Mission Impossible and a little bit of James Bond–but a romance at its heart.

I’ll begin the outline for the 3rd book in the Wounded Warriors Series, MIRROR MIRROR, at the end of the year, which will earn me a well-deserved break.

FF: Can you tell us a little bit about why you’ve chosen electronic publishing for your titles?

Karen: I’m the type of writer who can’t write in a box. I’ve tried and found that my stories are never as good if I begin working on it with a specific publisher fixed in my mind. I’m very typical of most e-authors that way.

It was only when I stopped trying to get published by mass market publishers that I had my first book accepted, with an electronic publisher. I no longer have to worry about writing what’s popular or what’s selling. I’m free from conformity and boundaries to write my books the way they need to be written. Sounds like e-publishing was my last resort, I know, but I don’t look at it that way. E-publishing allows me to love my books 100%. While I’m working on breaking into mass markets once more, I’ll never leave e-publishing completely.

FF: You have quite a bit of experience with electronic publishing, so much that you have written a book and several columns on the subject. As an expert, what do you feel the future holds for electronic books and its authors?

Karen: Electronic publishing will impact *authors* more than any other group, including publishers and readers.

Non-subsidy electronic publishing offers writers what mass market publishing can’t and/or won’t–a way to get legitimately published so you can begin to build your resume. E-publishing isn’t about what will sell. Let’s face it–most e-books *don’t* sell enough to make marketing and profit much of a consideration. This frees e-publishers to accept the books that they and readers love, instead of only those which will reap financial rewards. Which proposal is a mass market publisher more likely to look at: 1) a never-before-published author with little or no credits or 2) an e-published author who has 1 or more books published, good or great reviews as well as possible award nominations or wins? The e-author is more likely to attract both agents and mass market publishers because they do have a resume.

I also find myself agreeing with Jason Epstein’s predictions in “Book Business Publishing Past Present and Future”: “Books as physical objects will not pass away to be replaced by electronic signals to be read from glowing, hand-held screens. Nor will bookstores vanish. But they will coexist hereafter with a vast multilingual directory of digitized texts, assembled from a multitude of sources, perhaps “tagged” for easy reference, and distributed electronically.”

Readers, please note that 2003 will mark yet another new publisher for my book ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING The Definitive Guide. The 2003 edition will be published by Hard Shell Word Factory in January and will be in 2 volumes:

-ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING The Definitive Guide {The Most Complete Resource to Non-Subsidy E-Publishing} [updated every year]

-WEAVE YOUR WEB {The Promotional Companion to ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING The Definitive Guide} [updated every 5 years]

FF: What advice would you give to someone who may be considering publishing electronically?

Karen: If your goal is to be published electronically but you’re not thinking ahead to getting rich and famous, then my advice is to do your homework on e-publishing and e-publishers. Know what you’re getting into. Understand the limitations as well as the benefits. If you’re the type of authors who’s been rejected everywhere because your work isn’t marketable, but everyone loved your story–e-publishing could very well be the boon of your lifetime.

At this point in my career as a well-established, successful e-author, my advice to any electronic or small-press author who wants to be successful *and* rich is to get an agent. It’s almost impossible to cross over into mass market publishing without one. You can get your career started with e-publishing and small press publishers, but there’s only so far you can go, in terms of success and financial reward. Unless you’re independently wealthy and enjoy anonymity, the only way to get wide exposure for your work and the money you deserve for it is through a mass market publisher. The only way to get your foot in a mass market publisher’s door these days is through an agent. Do your research, work only with someone who is trustworthy, but take that step as soon as you’re able.

Please visit my website at http://www.karenwiesner.com for more information about my work. For updates, sign up for my newsletter Karen’s Quill or send a blank message to KarensQuill-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Anyone interested in learning more about e-publishing should check out Karen’s upcoming books on the subject from Hard Shell Word Factory. To find out more about Karen be sure to visit her web site at http://www.karenwiesner.com. Thank you, Karen, for sharing your story and your thoughts with us, it’s been our pleasure. End

Copyright © 2002 by Dawn Seewer

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