Today, I'm privileged to feature an author spotlight, interview and even book review for Karen Rock, author of "Wish Me Tomorrow," a beautiful, deep, Harlequin Heartwarming romance. I was given a copy of her book in exchange for a review. On top of that, her blog tour has some amazing prizes which you could win by clicking on the rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post. This is a breakdown of the prizes to be won at the end of the tour (18 October.)
Harlequin tote bag
RWA 2013 water bottle
RWA water bottle holder
3 RUNNER UPS
$10 Amazon Gift Card
Wish Me Tomorrow
Can they build a future on hope alone?
For years nurse and grief counsellor, Christie Bates, has been teaching her patients to confront their fears, express themselves and trust in hope. But as her feelings for cancer survivor, Eli Roberts, and his two children grow, can she overcome her own fear and love a man who lives every day with the possibility of recurring illness?
Tackling cancer and single parenthood simultaneously has turned Eli into a devout realist. Which is why he finds Christie's perpetually upbeat attitude so aggravating. Still, despite himself, she's making a place in his heart. If only he could offer Christie more than an uncertain future.
An excerpt from the book:
A black car idled by the curb when they stepped into the foyer. So soon. If only they had a few more minutes.
“Goodbye, Eli.” Her wistful voice produced an almost physical ache in his heart. They’d been through a lot tonight. Having it end after her painful admission felt wrong.
Worse, he’d let her share that without ever admitting anything about his condition. Maybe it would be better if she knew. At least then she’d understand why this really needed to be goodbye.
“I have cancer,” he blurted. “Had, I mean.”
She touched his arm, the gentle sensation lingering long after she dropped her hand. “I’m so glad you’re in remission. Tommy told me about your illness, but only because he knows I work with cancer patients. The children respect your wish not to talk about it.”
Now that he had not expected. Did she understand his reason for telling her? That he needed the reminder of why he shouldn’t see her again?
The town car driver honked and she opened the foyer door and walked out. He followed, pulling the car door wide for her.
“Goodbye, Christie.” He would remember this night—remember her—for a long time. “Thanks again.”
“Take care, Eli.” Her voice sounded quiet. Tired.
He nodded, unable to say more as he watched her duck into the car. His feet stayed rooted to the stone stoop long after the taillights disappeared into the rain. If only he was the kind of man who could see her again. A man whose future didn't blur into a question mark.
But now, as he trudged back inside the building, he told himself to focus on his kids and what they needed. If they were confiding in her that he’d put a lockdown on all cancer discussion, maybe his health issues bothered them more than he realized.
And while he might not ever subscribe to the touchy-feely brand of positive thinking that Christie did, he would make sure his kids had someone to talk to. Someone a whole lot better versed in this stuff than him.
Even though an energetic, beautiful nurse and counselor came to mind, he vowed to find someone else.
For both their sakes.
You can buy "Wish Me Tomorrow" in the following places:
In Paperback: Harlequin Heartwarming
You can find her book on Goodreads too.
All about the Author, Karen Rock
In a quest to provide her ELA students with quality reading material, educator, Karen Rock, read everything out there and couldn't wait to add her voice to the genre. In addition to her work as a Young Adult romance novelist, she's now an author for Harlequin's Heartwarming line and thrilled to pen stories that moms can share with their teenage daughters. She's loved Harlequin books since she spent summers going through her grandmother's Presents books that she passed along in paper grocery bags each year. As half of the writing duo J.K. Rock, Karen also pens young adult romance. When she's not busy writing, Karen enjoys scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother's family recipes, reinventing her gardens to suit her moods and occasionally rescuing local wildlife from neighborhood cats. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, her very appreciated beta-reader daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels, who have yet to understand the concept of "fetch" though they know a lot about love.
What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Kathy! The best thing about being writer is creating stories, characters and a world that I get to live in until I type the last word.
What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
The hardest thing about being a writer is having to say goodbye to the characters and world that I’d created. I grow attached to these places and individuals, a reason I also reread my favorite books by other authors.
What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
I write contemporary young adult and adult romance as well as suspense and paranormal novels. I’ve had two releases this summer: In July, the first in a YA romance series, Camp Boyfriend debuted followed by my contemporary adult romance, Wish Me Tomorrow, on September 1st.
What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
This answer could take up pages! I’ve learned so much. But I’ll keep it to the essentials. I’ve learned to be a storyteller first and a self-critic second. It’s the only way that I’ve been able to complete four books this past year without getting blocked or side-tracked. I now trust in myself to tell the story first and that any problems with regard to wording, sentence fluency, voice or even plot or characterization issues can be fixed during the revision. But you can’t fix what isn’t there so the best way to finish a novel is to tell it first.
Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
My favorite heroine currently is Christie in Wish Me Tomorrow. I love her because she’s a study in contradictions. Her optimistic approach to life hides her dark past and her guilty role in it. I love that she counsels other people, but doesn’t recognize how badly she’s dealing with her own issues. At heart, she is a loving, generous, and funny person and I care about her for that, but it’s the layers of her that are revealed as the story progresses that make me root for her.
What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.
My favorite male characters are not super alphas. I know lots of readers thrill for the guy that is emotionally unavailable, physically hot, and commanding. Yet I find that to be a turn off (not the physical part!). What I find to be sexy in a man is someone who is good-looking, makes me laugh, is intelligent, witty, thoughtful, strong and respectful. He’s so comfortable in his male skin that he doesn’t have to insult women or play games. Those are the men in my books because they’re the kind I want to spend time when writing, the type that I fall for.
Tell us about your journey in writing this book.
I was co-authoring a YA romance series with my co-author, Harlequin Super Romance author, Joanne Rock and received a mass email from her agent, Barbara, about a new line for Harlequin called Heartwarming. These were to be contemporary love that were deeply romantic and tender. My imagination went haywire. I love the raw emotion of YA literature and here, at last, was a line from Harlequin that would allow me to go to the emotional places I prefer. I wrote Barbara (now my agent as well) and asked her if my idea of an oncology grief counsellor with a dark past falling for an embittered single father recovering from osteosarcoma had potential. She shot the idea to the editor in charge of the line, Victoria Curran, who asked to see three chapters and, after submitting the, later contacted my agent with a contract offer. I now have another contract for four more Heartwarming romances and each story is so special I can’t wait to finish them!
Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
I’m addicted to reality TV- and not even the cool kind- I will watch thinks like ‘Strange Addictions’ or ‘Hoarders’. There should be a reality TV show for reality TV show junkies like me- lol. Maybe it’s because I write fiction that I like reality? I don’t know, but it’s weird. Another quirky thing about me is that I can’t bear to kill any living thing. Even the tiniest spider is trapped in a plastic solo cup and carried outside. Just yesterday, I used a pillow to guide a fluttering moth from my kitchen, through my living room, into my hallway and out the front door. Success! Finally, I’ll eat anything for breakfast. Seriously. Anything! I’ve eaten leftover LoMein, heated up frozen chicken wings, a meatball sub... I don’t discriminate except when it comes to eggs. Now who would eat those nasty runny things before your eyes can even focus? Lol.
What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack?
I squirt some imaginary butt glue on my chair, sit myself down and tell myself I can’t get up until I’ve reached my word goal. And I stick to it (figuratively J) I typically write about 4-5,000 words a day with the idea that no matter how messy it is, I will spend all of the next fixing them. The day after than I write another 4-5 k words and repeat the process.
Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.
I’ve read so much that it is hard to say that there is anything that I do that other writers aren’t equally strong at... However, I can tell you what is recognizable about my writing style and that is a distinct voice, humor, quirky, flawed characters, intensely emotional scenes and unpredictable plot twists that make readers say, “oh no she didn’t!” Oh yes, I will. I like to push the envelope on issues that people are afraid to confront because it’s not ‘nice’ or easily understandable. But neither are human beings and ultimately isn’t that what the goal is of most writers, to capture a slice of humanity and reflect it in their story; help readers to share in experiences they recognize as familiar to their own so they know they are not alone.
What book would you like to work on next?
I just finished my most recent Harlequin Heartwarming, His Hometown Girl. I have three more contracted, yet am also working on a new YA romance proposal with my YA writing partner, Joanne. As a solo writer, I’m fascinated by the idea of writing a science fiction, YA romance and look forward to writing it!
Well, what an interesting interview! I also love reality TV, Karen. And your books are very unique, from having read Wish Me Tomorrow, I have to say so. Yes, you did push boundaries in your book.
Here is my review of Wish Me Tomorrow:
Christie is a nurse and grief counsellor. When Eli comes into her cancer support group meeting with his friend, John, in a wheelchair, at first Christie is annoyed with his cynical attitude. He finds her breezy optimism a tad irritating, too. But the chemistry is there. Then John has a stroke in the meeting and Christie handles the emergency with such confidence and skill, saving Eli’s friend’s life, that his interest in her is more than piqued.
They meet again when Eli’s teenage daughter reaches crisis point in her relationship with her father who is in remission from bone cancer. Christie fills in for her colleague to be their family counsellor. The relationship progresses from there.
The barriers between their relationship run deep. Christie still struggles with guilt from the past and Eli fears the future. Running parallel to this tender and very touching romance, is the bond developing between Christie and Eli’s two children which helps mend the broken teenage daughter, Becca’s heart. I have always loved stories with bonds developing with the kids. This one does it so well.
Whew! This book isn’t your standard formulaic romance. The writer took me on a roller-coast ride. One moment, I was filled with joy and hope, the next with despair and hurt for the characters in this book. Does she know how to get a reader to empathise with the characters! She made me feel. Really feel.
When I first started reading this book, I have to admit I was wary of the dark subject. I love to read romance because of the usual light-heartedness of the genre. There’s a happily-ever-after and the characters fall in love along the way. When I saw the book was about a man who’d had cancer and she was a grief counsellor for a cancer support group, I was nervous. But the story line looked good.
Karen Rock handled a very painful and delicate subject with immense tenderness and skill. She helped me understand what it was like to be so close to death or the terminal illness of a loved one. She touched a subject that is not often touched in a romance novel.
(spoiler alert) I have to comment on the ending. I can’t say I was totally sold on it in the beginning but I thought it was written in a wonderful, thought-provoking way. In fact, I think an ending that makes you ponder and think about the book for days afterwards is truly the best ending. That's what I loved about this book - it was unique and not just a formula romance. I can tell it was written from the heart.
This book will keep you thinking about it for days afterwards. The romance was beautifully written, slow-brew, and touching. A romance that grew slowly and tenderly and just right for the characters. Skillfully crafted.