Friday, June 5, 2009

Our First Guest!!! Karin Tabke

I'm so very pleased to announce our VERY FIRST grog guest: Karin Tabke. Karin spent two years as the President of our local RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter. During her tenure, she offered words of wisdom, unflagging encouragement, and occasionally a shoulder to cry/whine on.

We're going to interview Karin asking the hard hitting, tough questions you've come to expect from the Pens Fatales (okay, maybe not so much hard hitting, cause really, we are so very nice)

Our subject for the first two weeks is First Lines so we're going to start in theme....

PF: What's your most favorite first line from a book? Do you have one or many?

KT: First of all I want to thank all of the grog ladies for having me today! I feel so special! Your first guest!!

So, fave first lines? I have a few and no surprise, I wrote them!

Here’s the first line from my debut hot cops series GOOD GIRL GONE BAD, “Are you trying to tell me Sergeant Jamerson, you didn’t lay one finger on Jesse Rivera?”

In SKIN, the first line is, “Strip.”

In JADED the first line is, “Touch me again, Mr. Townsend, and I’ll cut your balls off and shove them so far down your throat you’ll choke to death.”

Snerk all of these first lines are spoken by the heroines. Hmm I think I see a pattern.

I mix things up in the historicals, they are more atmospheric. From MASTER OF SURRENDER, book one in my Blood Sword Legacy series the first line: The pungent odor of urine, the copper tang of blood, and the stench of terror blended in perfect union with the ailing moans and strangled screams of the multitudes of prisoner begging for merciful death.

For me the first line has to hook. It has to make the reader want to read the second line to see what happens. Each subsequent line should whet the reader’s appetite for more. I’m very conscious of how each of my books begin. It’s not easy to cast the bait, hook the reader than reel them in. Each word counts.

PF: You run a "first line" contest on your website, can you tell us more about that?

KT: Of course! I will admit the first, First Line Contest was done purely as a promotional tool to drive readers to my website and hopefully encourage them to buy my book. But it has evolved into something far more important. (Don’t get me wrong! I want to sell books!). Let me back up a bit. When I cannonballed into this writing thing many moons ago, I did it with wild abandon and high hopes, and the expectation I would sell right off the bat. So, we all know how that goes. When the realization sunk in that I needed help, there wasn’t much out there. And god forbid I ask a published author to recommend their agent or plague upon plague, ask them for their editor’s snail mail addy to submit to. One would think I had asked them to kiss a canker sore infested frog. So, you get my drift. Amongst unpublished authors, there was an outpouring of support. Published authors? Nada. So, I vowed when my time came, I would pay forward.

That is what my First Line Contest has become. I stalk an editor and hold her hostage until she agrees to be my final judge, which is the hope of all of us, to get our work in front of a bona fide editor who can buy our story! My past final editor judges are Editorial Director at Pocket Books, Lauren McKenna. Then Kensington editor Hilary Sares, St. Martin’s editor Hilary Teeman, and this past contest, Senior Grand Central editor, Amy Pierpont.

Here’s the gist of the contest. I open it up to the first 100 commenters on my blog who post a first line. Each week I have an anonymous published judge cull five entries. Each Monday the lines that make it go up as a blog post and they have until Friday night to post their next line. Back to the next judge, until after about 15 weeks we have ten first lines that are now 15 lines. Those top ten go to five judges who then give me their five faves. Those five are my finalists. They have two weeks to write a cover letter and the first ten pages of their story that begin with their original first line. It goes to the editor, she ranks them, but the hope is she falls in love and requests more. And hope of all hope she buys! No sale yet, but lots of requests, and not only from editors but agents who follow the contest. It’s a huge amount of fun!

PF: What is the first line from your most recent release,
Master of Craving, from Pocket out NOW?

KT: “Push, milady, push!” Jane the royal nurse urged.

And now that we've hit the highlights of our theme, we are going to move on to more general questions.

PF: What made you start writing?

KT: Daydreaming in high school. I was smitten with Rod Stewart and the only way I could have him all to myself was to write our love story.

PF: What does your writing schedule look like?
KT: I have no schedule. I write during the day, at night, in the wee hours of the morning. It’s all over the place. But always in my office, and when I’m under deadline I write every weekday.

PF: What's the best or most inspiring fan letter or blog comment you've ever received?

KT: I’ve had some really nice reader emails over the years, but for me the biggest thrill came from RWA National when they awarded me the Pro Mentor of Year Award last year. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when readers tell me how much they love my stories and characters, but my biggest inspiration comes from making a difference in a writer’s life.

PF: What advice do you offer to aspiring writers out there?

KT: If publishing is truly your dream: Never, ever, EVER quit. I’m a goal orientated person, and I set my goal on New York. I wasn’t going to stop until I had achieved my goal. Now my goals are to stay employed with a New York publisher!

One final question, because really we all had so much fun (uh, sort of, maybe, okay, this was really hard but fun) coming up with one fun fact about ourselves, which can be seen on the Jungle Red grog, post from May 29th when they invited us to tea.

PF: Tell us one "Fun Fact" about yourself.

KT: I think I’m a rock star but can’t carry a tune.

Karin can be found on her website,, click the blog link to her personal blog The Write Life, a cozy fun place to hang out. She also blogs every other Friday at you can follow her on Twitter and friend her on Face book, both under Karin Tabke. Myspace too! She gets around! Or if you have any questions always feel free to email her at

Oh, and before I forget, to celebrate the release of MASTER OF CRAVING, book three in my Blood Sword Legacy series, Karin’s publisher, Simon & Schuster is offering A KNIGHT TO REMEMBER a free read. Just click on the link!

She is also giving away a signed copy of MASTER OF SURRENDER, book one in the Blood Sword Legacy series!


Martha Flynn said...

Hmm....can't carry a tune, you say? You + Me + Drinks + Karaoke at Nationals this year....let's make it happen.

Anonymous said...

sis in law here Kars (Packer soveigner?) for your fav sis in law? and oh by the way she is a fabo author and I am not saying this cause I'm biased. She really is awesome can't wait to get my teeth into MOC. Be safe.

Rachael Herron said...

Makes me so grateful to be writing in this time of agentquery and all the other great websites.... I don't know how y'all did it.

Also, I AM SO THERE AT THE KARAOKE. We will get you up there. :)

Cathy M said...

Hi Karin, congrats on your new release. So agree about first lines, even first pages, that have to be interesting enough to get me hooked. Much rather have a book start with some conversation that pages of description.

Karin* said...

ack! my comments aren't posting!

Lisa Hughey said...

Karin is having technical difficulties and her commetns aren't posting...although that one did...hmmm :)

flchen1 said...

Hi, Karin! Hi, Pens Fatales! Those are some great first lines :) And that was such a terrific first-line contest, Karin! So many intriguing submissions!