Christopher Keelty posted this and it looked like fun, so… Figured I’d take a break from the mind-numbing and maddening task of revising my query letter for the umpteenth time, second (hundredth) guessing my synopsis, and scouring my manuscript for trash words, typos, and technical glitches.

Want to know more normal stuff? Go here.

Where were you born?

San Diego, California – in Balboa Naval Hospital

Where did you grow up?

The property was surrounded by stuff that looked like this.

Lots of places, mostly all over Southern California. But the majority of my youth was on a rural property in the high desert in eastern San Diego County.


There’s four of us… one sister missing.

Yep. All older than I am. Three sisters (living), and one brother.

What’s your favorite drink?

A glass of wine with dinner. A margarita on a hot summer day. A cosmo if I’m not sure of the bartender. A gin and tonic when I want something simple. And when the mood strikes, I can be talked into trying all sorts of interesting “girly” cocktails.

What are your hobbies and interests?

Yeah, I like to entertain.

Wow, that would be a long list. I love to cook and entertain, it’s a rare week when we don’t have guests for dinner at least twice. The family likes going to the Renaissance faire, and the fairy festivals, and Artscape, and the book festival, and… OK, we like getting out and doing things.

Do you speak any languages besides English?

Fluently? No. I have retained a tiny smattering of Spanish, can generally understand (but not speak) some French, and I’m currently learning Japanese.

Do you have any tattoos?

One. It looks like a henna tattoo and goes from my right shoulder down my back to low on my right hip. More coming as soon as I decide what I want to add to it.

What am I pitching?

DARKNESS is a romantic thriller – a former police officer with a troubled past sets out to find a serial rapist. There’s danger, excitement, love, and sexiness. And a seriously twisted character (or two).

Other Stuff?

I have a slight thing for shoes. Specifically, high heels.
I make a kick-ass pecan pie.
Yes we do Ren Faire. My son, daughter, me, and hubby (l-r)
And Pride.

Rochelle Karina_Headshot_BandW
This is me…

I actually became aware of Pitch Wars two years ago. The first year, I realized it was going on after the submission period had ended. Last year, I didn’t have anything anywhere near ready to go.

This year, I have two possible pieces. Insert happy dance here. So, I reviewed the list of mentors. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Twice. Three times.

Then I realized the real action was happening on Twitter. A forum I am notoriously bad with. Oh dear. Maybe I should skip it. Never mind. I’ll go about querying and all of that in the regular way. Ho hum. Then I realized something else. Something very important. I was being stupid. Absolutely, completely and utterly stupid.

So I dusted off my Twitter profile. I reread that long list of mentors. It wasn’t too hard to narrow it down. One piece is a dystopian sci-fi with a strong romantic element (officially one potential mentor). The second is a romantic thriller (officially five potential mentors).

City Life
This is my neighborhood…

Yep, guess which one I’m using.

Many potential mentees are posting their bios, wish lists, etc. Well, what the heck. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

My Dream List

Why? Each not only indicated an interest in the types of books I like to read (and write), but each exhibited a sense of humor, excitement, and high expectations.

And now I have a very long list of “I wants” to add to my Kindle!

What I Write

Fallen_150dpi_eBookIn the past, I might have said “a bit of everything”, but as I go along, I see a trend.

Most of my pieces straddle the line between thriller and romance. All of my stories tend to have strong female protagonists, and most include a distinct love interest that is a significant driving force in the plot. I don’t, however, write traditional romance genre.

After the HarvestI do delve into horror, and occasionally cross into chick lit territory, but even the dystopian sci-fi piece has elements of romance and a distinct twinge of thriller.

What am I pitching?

DARKNESS is a romantic thriller – a former police officer with a troubled past sets out to find a serial rapist. There’s danger, excitement, love, and sexiness. And a seriously twisted character.

What I Read

A bit of everything!

I’m particularly fond of Gaiman, Rothfuss, Koontz, and King. I recently discovered a weakness for Deborah Harkness, and I’ll admit I eagerly anticipate the next installment of Game of Thrones. I’m a fan of Tolkien from long ago, and grew up loving James Herriot. However, I was equally likely to be reading Poe or Lovecraft, and I still have a soft spot for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I like my vampires elegant, dangerous, and sexy. I prefer to avoid werewolves. In horror, I’m equally drawn to supernatural as to the more human horrors. And if we’re talking fantasy, I like stories that include magic as well as mundane.

What Else?

Game of Thrones buffet for 15...
Game of Thrones buffet for 15…

I am an avid cook, be warned, I tend to post food porn.

I try to keep a sense of humor in all that I do.

I have a rather serious love of shoes – specifically high heels.

I’m an opinionated brat at times, and my politics straddle the line between ultra-liberal and moderately conservative.

I’m currently writing for a variety of online sources (mostly under pseudonyms), while trying to find an agent for my latest novel.

And I’ll close with my usual list:

Smart, urbanite, foodie, funny, cook, passionate, political, irreverent, writer, photographer, busy, mom, wife, shoe fiend, fashionista, frequent hostess.

My “office”…

I’m a child of the ’80s – I had this on a button.

Here’s a huge shocker, my book contains some sex scenes.

I know, big surprise, right?

And I’m currently editing another book that contains (gasp!) sex scenes.

No, these aren’t erotic fiction, though I’ve been known on occasion to write erotica (and have even gotten paid to do it). These are standard fiction stories. Not even in the romance genre.

So I was more than a little interested when a fellow writer posted a link to this article on Facebook – Do condoms kill the mood of a book?

It was an interesting read, and the answers weren’t simple.

Neither of my stories include condom usage. However…

In Fallen, the characters do have “the talk” about STIs and sexual partners and make an informed decision about condom usage (or the lack thereof). In the current work, there is general talk of sexual safety awareness and routine testing, one character is mentioned as always using protection, but there is no specific discussion between the two characters who have sex. There’s no “should we or shouldn’t we” discussion, no “on page” disclosure of sexual history, etc.

I don’t really think about it as me choosing to not include condoms in these stories so much as me choosing to write the story without thinking about sending a message about safer sex. These are novels, not how-to manuals. I’m not writing thinly-veiled “edutainment” for the condom industry. I’m trying to write an engaging story, and sometimes those stories include sex. If condom usage were important to the storyline, I’d include it.

It’s an interesting thought process. If a novel includes a sex scene, should it also automatically include safer sex practices, or explain the lack of them? Does the genre of the novel make a difference? Say, one answer for erotica, another for historic romance, still another for contemporary romance, and a whole different set of requirements for young adult.

Does the level of explicitness make a difference? If we’re talking blow-by-blow description (pun so very much intended), should safer sex be there, but it’s okay to skip it if the story starts getting sexy, we know what’s gonna happen, then the next thing we see is the morning after?

These are the thoughts that occupy my brain when I really should be working on editing my book.

Stephen King at the Harvard Book Store.
Stephen King at the Harvard Book Store. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I just had to get that one out of the way. And now, on we go.

I looked at the writing challenge for this week and after a few moments of furious debate with myself decided to give it a giant pass.

Well, sort of a giant pass. It got me thinking, really. I started thinking about when I decided I wanted to write. And how that came about. And who influenced me. And…

And then I realized that even though I have won awards, been published and paid for my writing many, many times, and that for the past many years, I’ve made my living primarily because of my ability to write, and write well, I only recently started considering myself a “writer.”

That in itself is a long story, full of political incorrectness and stuff. And the editor in me says it doesn’t belong in this post.

Suffice to say, I finally realized if you express yourself in written words, you are a writer. Whether good or bad is open for debate. Every now and then, I even think of myself as a pretty good writer.

When I was young, I was a voracious reader. I devoured everything I could get my hands on. When in 9th grade, I refused to read Lord of the Flies a second time (I’d read it in 8th grade). My wise English teacher offered me A Separate Peace instead. While the rest of the class plodded through their book, I went through that, and Catcher in the Rye plus one other totally forgettable novel.

Somewhere along the line I discovered Poe and Lovecraft and then Stephen King, and a lifelong love of horror was born.

It’s King I turned to for this piece. Not to imitate, no… because that would turn a short blog post into a gigantic tome. But his personal, real man tone is what made his stories so catchy, and so frightening.

What I always loved about King’s writing, and what I’ve worked to achieve in my own, is the tone of reality. No matter how fantastical the set up, no matter how far fetched the plot, King could reel you in with sheer humanity.

Over the years, I’ve had to write in a variety of styles not my own, and I’ve turned to various writers to get “in the mood.”

Judith Martin is my favorite for crafting pieces that require acerbic wit combined with impeccable manners and well-thought-out phrases. If I need inspiration for marketing I turn to Dr. Seuss (yes, you read that right!). I have a variety of authors to whom I turn for inspiration of various sorts.

But in the dark of night, when it’s just me and the glowing screen, I don’t want polite. I don’t want funny. I want raw. I want real. I want King.

WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge