Karen Kelley Guest Blogs
by Sharon Ashwood on April 22nd, 2010

The first Karen Kelley book I read was Double Dating With the Dead, an utterly charming story. I can personally avow her winning streak carries on! We’re delighted to have Karen at S&S to celebrate the April 1 release of her latest, THE JAGUAR PRINCE. Comment on Karen’s post below, and you could win a copy!

Something wild this way comes…

Zoo worker Callie Jordan knows something primal when she sees it: take, for instance, the naked man sitting at the foot of her bed. He’s the same (naked) guy she saw after hours at the zoo. But now he’s in her apartment, and just happens to have turned into a black-as-night jaguar. The average person would be in a blind panic; Callie certainly intends to be—once she finishes processing what this incredibly hot lunatic is telling her…

My creative side has learned to make compromises with my analytical side. First, I have an idea and a scene unfolds in my mind. I write the first few chapters and get to know my characters. Then I start plotting.

Being a pantser was fun, but boy did I have to do a lot of backtracking! I discovered having most of the plot down makes the writing go faster. There are fewer times when I say “oops”. It works for me.

After the first few chapters, the next thing I do is write the synopsis. That way I’m only highlighting the main story but, still, it’s usually around 12-20 pages long, so fairly detailed. I play the “what if” game a lot. Having someone to bounce ideas off of really helps, too.

When I begin writing, I keep a notepad nearby so I can jot things like the color of a car or a new secondary character that I might introduce just in case I need him later on. That has saved me a lot of time.

AND, I thought I was the only one who used butcher paper so I can map out my story and see it as a whole, but I see Sharon does the same thing. It works really great when you do a series, especially if you have two going on at once. It’s probably one of the cheapest things you can buy. I stick it on the wall with painters tape. I’ve also worked with a computer generated chart and used it like a storyboard.

What do you do to stay on track? Or do you get to a point where you want to throw your laptop/computer/pencil at the wall. Have you ever gotten mad and poked the spacebar over and over and over—okay, I’m guilty of that one LOL I’d love to hear from y’all.

35 comments to “Karen Kelley Guest Blogs”

  1. 1

    Although I am not a writer, I try to be a very organized person so I can complete any project I have going with as little fuss as possoble. I have made hundreds of lists, spread sheets, and diagrams in my life and it has really helped. I feel I have saved tons of frustration and loads of time by a little thought and organization.

    Thank you for the enjoyment your stories have given me. ‘Temperature’s Rising’ and ‘Southern Comfort’ are two of my favorite, but I have enjoyed them all and you always can put a smile on my face while I am reading one of your wonderful books. Continued success.

  2. 2

    Hi Karen! Interesting post. I love reading about other writing processes. I start writing but after about 50 pages, I stop to plot. I love using Shelley Bradley’s plotting board technique. That helps a lot. Looking forward to reading The Jaguar Prince!

  3. 3

    First off let me say I love, love, love your books. Your Nerakians are some of my favorites. I can’t wait to start your new series, The Jaguar Prince is on my wish list. As far as keeping organized, I keep a planner and also use wall callendars and a lot of post-it’s. I do pretty well, but every once in a while something slips through the cracks.

  4. 4

    I love to hear/read the story behind the story. :)

  5. 5

    Hi Shari, I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed my books. I wish I was more organized on the homefront. I’m getting there, though!

    Hi Mary Beth! Thanks bunches for stopping by. Yep, Shelley’s story boarding has been a big help to me, too!

    Thanks so much, Linda!!! I wrote the first Nerakian book on a whim LOL Okay, and a wild weekend retreat with a bunch of crazy writers LOL I keep a calendar on my desk so I can rememebr where I’m supposed to be.

    Hi Gram, I love hearing them, too!

  6. 6

    Do I even know what staying on track means, I just kinda go with the flow and I am a happy person cause I really do get things done sooner or later. I love The Jaguar Prince! August, hurry up and get here so I can read Falcon Prince. I live for your next book, I find your writing just amazing, if you have to write on toilet paper do what ya have to do to keep me reading!lol

  7. 7

    I’m a somewhat organized person. If it’s not in my PDA, I will forget it as far as appointments go. I always enjoy hearing about an author’s writing process and look forward to reading your new series.

  8. 8

    Morning Karen! I love hearing about what inspires the story, heros and heroines. At work I find myself stapling post it notes together i order. I’m not too terribly organized just yet but I’m getting there. I can’t wait to pick up your book! :grin:

  9. 9

    Love to hear about others’ writing processes! I am definitely a plotter. Because I’m writing a series with multiple threads and characters, I write out a character arc, with each character’s story in a different color, then put them all together into scenes, making sure no character’s storyline goes too long without a mention. I tried pantsing it on the first book and it was utter chaos!

  10. 10

    I don’t write, but a plan for what you are doing certainly helps. As a children’s librarian, I needed to plan months in advance (at least I should do that) to make sure events got put on calendars and publicity went out. For after school and summer programs, you need an overall plan, materials ordered, guests lined up, etc. well before the actual date. I have a years calendar in front of me when planning, and a three month wall calendar for the immediate stuff. I never got a roll of butcher paper, but that would have worked well. I had stacks of papers where I would plan individual activities and events. That worked because I could shift them to a different date and not have to cross things out on a spreadsheet. As much as long range planning is important at work and on projects at home, I am ready to go at the drop of a hat if something comes up unexpectedly. Take advantage of those little surprises or inspirations. They can take you some exciting places, literally and figuratively.

  11. 11

    Sorry, meant to comment on your book. THE JAGUAR PRINCE sounds interesting.
    I haven’t read many shifter books. I have been sampling the different paranormal sub-genre and have only done anthologies with shifters. They are intriguing and this one sounds good. Good luck with the release of this series.

  12. 12

    I found your process to be very interesting and I got some great ideas from you. I was using a bulletin board for a story board, posting bits and pieces of notes, ideas, quotes, photos, but they started falling off, so I just put them all in a folder. In one place but disorganized. I am going to try the butcher paper idea! But, hmmm, I’m going to need a really big wall as I am fleshing out an initial draft from 50,000 words to 90,000 words. I’m happy to be able to tell more of my hero and heroine’s story, but have been getting lost a bit in the process. I think this butcher paper is going to help.
    Thank you, oh Texas Queen of aspiring writers everywhere.
    Love you,

  13. 13

    Hi Karen, I love seeing other writers’ methods. I feel like I’m doing things all wrong sometime and have to keep reminding myself there’s no right or wrong way to writing a story. It’s strange how our technique changes over the years. For the first ten years I used to write out a detailed synopsis before I even wrote a word. But the last four years I’ve become more of a panster. Too funny that we seem to have switched places. But, I’m finding that writing novellas are quite different from writing single titles. At least they are for me.

    Congratulations on the new release!! It looks fantastic. Great cover models. They’ll really help you sell the book.

  14. 14


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  16. 16

    Hi Pat, I’ve always thought it must be pretty great to work in a library. What fun to be surrounded by so many books. Thanks for the congrats!

    Debbi, you are so funny! And yes, it’s easy to get lost. Try the butcherpaper or the compter blocks. I think you’ll find it a lot easier to “see” your work.

    Hiya Linda! I think we have to find what works best for us. Whatever you’re doing is certainly working. I love your books!

    Hi Tami, :lol: I haven’t read that book, either. I did write Double Dating With The Dead, though. It will be out in mass market in July so a much lower price. I hope you enjoy The Jaguar Prince.

    Someone once asked where I got my humor. I told them I just keep telling myself jokes I’ve never heard before.

  17. 17

    Another multiuse paper, I’ll have to try your mindmapping method on butcher paper. You are methodically organized, while I go off on tangents drawn to the novelty. Unless I write those random ideas down, it’s hard to recapture the context to flow with the thought. Paper and pen accompany me everywhere, even funerals.

  18. 18

    not a writer, not very organized either!!But I do LOVE, LOVE your books!! I can’t wait to get my hands on the Jaquar Prince, it looks like another awesome read. Please enter me for it..

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  19. 19

    I smiled when I read about the pad. When I used to write poetry I got to the point where I carried a notepad with me everywhere because I never knew when or where I would recieve inspiration. This made it so much easier to remember ideas rather than trying to rely on my memory.

  20. 20

    Hi Karen…as always you are motivating and entertaining. Please keep writing and using your talent. Congratulations on your new book. I am looking forward to reading it. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

  21. 21

    I am just a reading but; I have many post it notes all over so I remember things. LOL. Keeps me organized somewhat. I have not read your books yet or a shifter book but; I am adding them to my to read list cause they sound wonderful. And I love the cover.

  22. 22

    HI Judie! You’re so sweet! Thanks bunches for dropping by.

    Hi Sue! I love the cover, too. The Falcon Prince (2nd book) cover looks good, too, but I think my fav is The Wolf Prince (3rd book).

  23. 23

    I’m organized in some things, but at work, you wouldn’t want to see my desk, it’s terrible. I’ve tried to organize things, but if I don’t keep it on my desk, it gets forgotten as some new urgent task gets worked on. I love your books Karen, and I look forward to reading The Jaguar Prince.

  24. 24

    Hi Karen,

    Nice interview and now I’ll have to definitely check out your books.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

    Amy Ramsey
    Ramsey’s Reviews

  25. 25

    Hi, Karen!

    You’re post is a lot like you - utterly charming. I love your books - the humor, emotion and sensuality are wonderful. Thank you for hours of reading pleasure.

    Thanks also for the tip about the butcher paper! :)



  26. 26

    Hey Ms. Karen…I WANT A COPY!!!! Love Karen Kelley..who has a dark, twisted, erotic, imaginative mind! She is like NO OTHER. Congrats on the new release :lol:

  27. 27

    Hi Patsy!!! Moi? Twisted??? Never :roll: Thanks so much for stopping by!

  28. 28


    Yay, I’m so glad you’re here with us today! One thing I do to stay on track while writing my story is to read and re-read my synopsis. Somehow that helps me to simplify! I also tend to really immerse in “stuff”, so while I’m writing a book I read a lot of research materials, collect bits of artwork (lol, usually just the card/postcard or electronic variety) and watch movies set in that time period/setting, etc.

    Enjoyed your post!


  29. 29

    HI Kim, I was thrilled to be asked about blogging and I’ve had a great time.

    I actually keep everything in a notebook which I section off. I have my synopsis, characters including pictures of each character, and then research. Anything about the story goes into this notebook.

    I like to work between books so the notebook comes in handy. I only wish I would have learned all this sooner rather than later! :oops:

  30. 30

    Hi Karen! Thanks for posting with us today. I haven’t tried incessant space bar poking. I prefer the double flat palm smack :smile:

    Congrats on your new book!

  31. 31

    Hi Jessa, I was excited and thrilled to be here. Ohhh, I’ll have to try the double flat palm smack. I could get extra keys with that one :lol: I wonder if that might be why I go through so many keyboards???

  32. 32

    You have some great ideas for brainstorming that help other writers. Keep writing. I love your stories.

  33. 33

    Thanks so much, Sue!

  34. 34

    HI Karen! Absolutely LOVE that cover! I always buy your books because of your unique sense of humor in the middle of a suspenseful paranormal plot.

    AND! Its sooooo kewl to hear that I’m not the only one who writes/plots like that. Fellow authors have scolded me for being a “pantser” BUT now I can just comment back: “Hey, famous Karen Kelley does it too, so I’m allowed!” LOL!

    Happy Sales and Hugs,
    Kari Thomas

  35. 35

    Not being able to write more than a few disjoined pages, I have to applaud any author who writes a whole book. After hearing the struggles that you faced to finish this book, I’m thankful as a fan that you preserved to the end.

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