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Author Interview Series: Author Karen M. Smith

Updated: Apr 20

Today, Next Journey Books (NJB) welcomes Karen M. Smith, a talented woman who wears many hats. Some of her talents include; author, ghostwriter, proofreader, and more. Her diverse writing range is fascinating as it encompasses stories from westerns to fantasy. Read on to meet my latest guest.

Karen's Bio:

Karen Smith is a full-time freelance writer, editor, and book designer offering ghostwriting, editing, proofreading, and book design services. Her experience encompasses website copy and marketing collateral; blogs, newsletters, and magazines; screenplay-to-novel adaptations; and book manuscripts. She lives on a small hobby farm in southwestern Ohio with her husband and a menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, and chickens. She writes and publishes fiction under the pen name Holly Bargo.



- Champion of the Twin Moons: Twin Moons Saga Book 5


In the enchanting world of the fae, Chastian, the gallant Champion of the Seelie Court, discovers his destined mate while visiting the Erlking—and she's a human child. Years pass, and Chastian eagerly awaits the day when he can claim his love and live happily ever after. But fate has other plans for them: the once-innocent child grows up and marries another, leaving him shattered and desolate.

The anguish of unrequited love proves too much for Chastian to bear, and he descends into a dark abyss of despair, consumed by sorrow and pain. His once-noble spirit becomes twisted and corrupted, turning him into a fearsome and ruthless villain. Yet when the realm's highest powers call upon Chastian to serve once more, he discovers a new purpose and a new mate—the daughter of his long lost love. Will she be the one to heal his wounded heart and restore his soul to its former glory? Or will she reject him, like her mother before her, when she learns the extent of his corruption and malice?


- The Falcon of Imenotash


The emperor of the Harudin Empire needs an heir and cannot produce one of his own body. He orders the most worthy of his worthless sisters to wed and produce an heir. That sister, Aridis, chooses Edan and offers him a promotion from captain of the palace guard of Imenotash to king. He accepts his queen's proposal.


Their mutual respect evolves into attraction and—dared they admit it—love. Displeased by his sister's choice and unable to dissolve the newlyweds' union, the emperor summons them to the capital city. Humiliation and degradation follow. The peasant-born warrior and the concubine's daughter have little opportunity to restore their honor and dignity, but they're keeping secrets from the emperor that may prove his doom.

- The Bounty: Jones (Not pictured)

Emmet “Hallelujah” Jones, a renowned bounty hunter and gunslinger, sets off after another lucrative bounty. This time, it's personal.


A just but focused man, Emmet will do anything to catch this bounty, even if it means gunning down a few other memorable names in the process. However, as he tracks down the bounty, he finds something unexpected. He's introduced to a peace he has never known, a peace he has always yearned for but which has always been out of his reach because of who and what he has made himself to be. Now, with new choices before him, he must decide what he values most.

Will Emmet hang up his guns and turn a new leaf? Will he claim that bounty? What will become of his self-made name?


Justice. Vengeance. Redemption.

The Questions:

1.   You have written several books / series. Tell us which one (or two) you are most proud of, and why.

The book I’d call my tour de force is The Falcon of Imenotash. It’s a short fantasy novel, just over 40,000 words, and jam-packed with political intrigue, action, and romance. It’s intense. Luckily for me, those who read tend to love it. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult book to sell; I’ve had a hard time convincing folks to give it a chance.


My latest book is The Bounty: Jones. This is a book I was hired to write. It’s a western. I have an enduring fondness for the old westerns starring John Ford, John Wayne, and Clint Eastwood. I loved watching Silverado and Wild, Wild West.  As a kid, I read Zane Grey’s books. And I love Firefly.


When I write a western—and this is by no means my first—I bring in all the influences of those old shows and movies, do a bit of research so the story is accurate to the period, then take a few creative liberties. Great fun! I’m working on the sequel now.


2.    Name your favorite part of the creation process.


The first draft is the fun part which also makes it my favorite part. After the first draft comes the tedious work of making what I wrote good. I tend to be critical as I’m writing and edit as I go along—something many experts advise against. During the creation of that first draft, I’m an undisciplined writer. I write when the restlessness of inspiration strikes. For me, the creative process comes in fits and spurts, sometimes with long lapses between those fits and spurts. During those lapses I work on other things, focus on other matters. I’ve found that trying to force the creativity results in garbage.


When I ghostwrite fiction for a client, I’m generally working from the client’s plot. The client’s plot usually gives me a good bit of creative latitude, but I do need to know where the client wants to take the characters. When it comes to client work, I exercise that discipline I can’t seem to apply to my own projects. It’s a weird split in my personality.


3.    What stories do you read for pleasure?


I used to read pretty much anything, except horror. I cannot deal with horror; it gives me nightmares. I read mainly historical fiction, romance, mystery, fantasy, science fiction. My favorite authors include some big names, like Robert B. Parker and Dick Francis as well as some you might not have heard of, such as Susan Stoker, C. L. Wilson, and Shannon Hill.


4.    Which childhood stories / books did you hear/read to inspire you to write?


There was no such thing as audiobooks when I was a child: “hearing” a book meant sitting with my mother while she read it to me. I can’t remember any particular book that inspired me to write, but fairy tales and Greek mythology whetted my taste for fantasy. My first stories tended toward fantasy with the odd science fiction thrown in. Most had a strong romantic subplot. My writing eventually veered fully into romance which has enough sub-genres to satisfy my inclination to wander genres.

5.  What is your most productive time to write, and how often do you write?


When I write for myself, I usually do it in the evenings. Being a freelance writer and editor, I work from home. Therefore, writing at my desk is “work.” To get away from “work,” I sit in the recliner or on the sofa with my laptop and write. As far as the frequency of my writing, that depends on the story. My current work-in-progress, the sixth book in my Twin Moons series, is going slowly, very slowly. I’m lucky to do a chapter a week. It will come together eventually. It will probably be the last book in the series.


6.  What ideas do you currently have in work for an upcoming series /novel? Briefly tell us about it.


I’m currently working on the sixth book in my Twin Moons series. This is a series of fantasy romances, some of the books being more fantasy than romance. This book follows Iselde, a character introduced in Champion of the Twin Moons.


I have a couple more novels planned, each in a series. One will be the fourth book in the Triune Alliance Brides series. This is a series of science fiction romances loosely based on the mail order bride trope. Another will be the sixth book in the Russian Love series, a series of mafia romances. The characters for those two books aren’t speaking to me yet, so I’m not ready to write them.


After that, who knows? Maybe I’ll do another western. I’d like to write a Regency romance, but I fear my comprehension of early 18th century English etiquette and aristocratic nomenclature isn’t up to snuff.


7.  Tell us something about yourself most people do not know.

I ride horses. Most people know that. What they don’t know is that every time I get ready to put my foot in the stirrup, I’m frightened. I used to be pretty much fearless around horses and would ride almost anything. Then I got hurt. Ever since then, I’ve been battling fear. I know this horse could kill me. I know this horse could hurt me. So, every time I ride, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that this is fun, that I like riding. After the first half mile or so, especially if my horse isn’t being stupid or obnoxious that day, I can relax and enjoy the rest of the ride. And, yes, I do own horses: one is a Halflinger mare and the other is a Morgan-Arabian gelding.




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