Mystery ~ Romance ~ Adventure
by Karen Sue Burns on December 31st, 2015

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” — Michelangelo
I’m no longer a fan of setting New Year resolutions because I never follow through with them. I know I’m not alone with that particular issue. However, I do like the idea of starting fresh and gazing ahead with my life, perhaps with guidelines rather than resolutions.
I ran across this prayer of Saint Francis in an old Dear Abby column. It fits perfectly for the start of a new year with a powerful message.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
“Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
“Where there is injury, pardon;
“Where there is doubt, faith;
“Where there is despair, hope;
“Where there is darkness, light;
“Where there is sadness, joy.
“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
“To be understood as to understand;
“To be loved as to love;
“For it is in giving that we receive;
“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
“It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

May we all experience peace and joy, along with good health, in 2016.
Happy New Year, y’all!!

by Karen Sue Burns on June 8th, 2015

I spent four days last week in Las Vegas for my annual gambling trip. Granted, I'm not a huge gambler, but I do enjoy playing the slot machines and video roulette. This photo pretty much sums up my luck in getting that extra bonus spin on the Wheel of Fortune machines...there are a ton of them. For the most part, this is what I'd roll...all the Spin icons need to be on the same line to earn that extra spin. Oh well, it was fun!
June isn't a big month for headliner shows in Las Vegas. But there are plenty of production shows. I went to Rock of Ages this time. It was excellent...loud and a bit grungy. I actually got a plot idea watching the show. My friend thinks I'm nuts as I get ideas for my books just about everywhere. An author's mind is always churning!

by Karen Sue Burns on April 13th, 2015

Crimson Author Signing:
Katy Budget Books -- 3-5 pm, Sunday, April 19
2450 Fry Road, Houston, TX

​I hope you will come on by -- I'll have a bit of swag and chocolate!
I will attend this signing with my first novel, In Hot Pursuit. I'll also have The Liberation of Mr. Delaney and Crazy for Home available.

Below is a bit about some of the locations I used in the search for the thief of a $25 million gift in In Hot Pursuit.

Rome Is the Perfect Setting
I love to travel and decided early on in the creation of my debut romantic suspense novel with Crimson Romance, In Hot Pursuit, that I wanted part of the action to take place in Rome, Italy. Rome is the perfect city for a newly rich thief to ramble around in and feel perfectly safe from any harm that might be brewing in Texas. It is also the perfect city for the two main characters, Quinn and Logan, to fall in love while they chase the thief. 

My goal was to give the reader a taste of Rome by intertwining the search for the thief with its beauty and tourist attractions. In addition to the ambiance of the Roman streets and restaurants, Logan and Quinn visited five major monuments in their search: the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter's Square, and the Coliseum. First, I used the Pantheon as "home port" for Quinn. It was a landmark close to their hotel and provided a sense of comfort for her.
​The Trevi Fountain is their next stop on their Roman journey hunting for the thief. Quinn and Logan both throw a US quarter into the water, over their left shoulder, ensuring a return visit to Rome per the urban legend. Quinn's thoughts on this simple, comforting act: "They had crossed an unspoken boundary. The warmth of his gaze filled her with hope. Hope that what lay ahead wouldn’t bite her in the butt. But at that moment, the planets in her world were in perfect alignment."

The Spanish Steps is popular with Americans and the location of Quinn's first visual sighting of the thief at the Piazza di Spagna. The piazza is the street below the steps and once Quinn and Logan arrive there, the thief has disappeared. Quinn voices her frustration to Logan at not yet locating the thief and vows to herself that "she’d find that bitch and in Rome."
St. Peter’s Square and the Basilica have a special place in the plot as this is where Quinn learns the name of the Rome hotel where the thief is hiding out. It's their destination the morning after they first make love and where they cross the line of dancing around each other to acknowledging they are happy being in Rome, together. Logan kisses Quinn in the center of the Square and says: “That’s something I’ve wanted to do for twenty years. Thank you for being here with me.”
This photo is the altar inside St. Peter's Basilica.
​My final monument to share is the Coliseum, the background for the cover of In Hot Pursuit. I love this elliptical amphitheatre in the center of Rome. Quinn loved it as well. It was completed in 80 A.D. and is a fabulous testament to the power and intelligence of mankind. It's a popular tourist attraction and it the beginning of the Pope's "Way of the Cross" procession each Good Friday. The interior is spooky if you imagine gladiators and battles and dripping blood.

I will continue to use the locations of my travels as settings for my novels. There is a beautiful world out there just waiting to be used in the plot of one of my stories. 

by Karen Sue Burns on December 2nd, 2014

I've decided to post 31 days of thanks during the month of December 2014. Done! Hello 2015!

Day 31 — I am thankful that tomorrow I will awake on the birth of a new year with good health, my family and friends, my passion for writing, the roof over my head, and my sweet dog, Dexter. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for more.​

Day 30 — I am thankful that I have not given up on my dream of someday becoming a New York Times Best Selling author. As Earl Nightingale said, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” Amen!

Day 29 — I am thankful I enjoy cooking. One of the nicest things you can do is to cook for someone who you care about. It’s like giving them a gift, made especially by you. I always remember Julia Child’s advice: "With enough butter, anything is good."

Day 28 — I am thankful that I finally read all of Jane Austen’s books in a master’s liberal arts program. Her manuscripts have so many fabulous quotes. This one is from my favorite novel: “Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.” — Pride and Prejudice (1813)

Day 27 — I am thankful for a logical brain that analyzes the facts and a sensitive heart that puts all those facts into perspective. We get one opportunity to live our life. My vow is to deal with it as it is, not how I wish it were.​

Day 26 — I am thankful that I love to challenge my brain even though I make dumb decisions at times. As Forest Gump says, “Stupid is as stupid does.” I suppose that applies to everyone at one point or another. Raise your hand if you’ve never done something that’s simply stupid. As I thought, no hands raised.​

Day 25 — I am thankful for experiencing another Christmas Day and it is a sunny day. Blessed are those who give without remembering
and receive without forgetting.

Day 24 — I am thankful my new grandson came home from the hospital today to enjoy his first Christmas Eve with his family and ALL his Christmas presents. This kid has the timing of an NFL quarterback.

Day 23 — I am thankful for all the websites that have lists of quotes for all occasions … always inspiring. Like this one:  “Some people are always grumbling 
because roses have thorns; 
I am thankful
that thorns have roses.” —Alphonse Karr​

Day 22 — I am thankful for Dr. Patel as he delivered grandson #4 this evening like a charm. A newborn’s first breath is a sight to see and the first cry is one of the most beautiful sounds on the planet.​

Day 21 — I am thankful for music—for bands like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Chicago, and Santana and artists like Sinatra, Elvis, John Mayer, and Pink. There are so many talented people whose music either soothes or energizes me. Creating music is a talent I do not have. I truly admire those who do have the gift. 

Day 20 — I am thankful that I tend to look at my life and the world around me with the “half-glass full” attitude. Yep, I’m an optimist at heart. Being a pessimist takes too much time and energy. Just sayin’.

Day 19 — I am thankful that my vision hasn’t gotten substantially worse as I’ve gotten older. Still can’t read street signs but it could be so much worse, like driving into road signs​.

Day 18 — I am thankful that I have a good friend who can make me laugh when I’m feeling a bit glum.

Day 17 — I am thankful I finally returned to my creative passion: writing romantic mystery novels. As Julia Child said, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” Yep, I’m interested all right!

Day 16 — I am thankful for little things. I just bought my first tart pan. I’m so excited! The heroine in my next book, Crazy for Home, makes one (her idea, not mine) so I decided to create a recipe and include it in the book. The tart will include tomato, pancetta, pesto, and cheese. Bon appetit!

Day 15 — I am thankful for the basics. Like the fact I still have good teeth. Life is short so I might as well smile while I have my natural teeth.

Day 14 — I am thankful I switched to Direct TV and more movie channels. I love all the sweet and yes, sometimes cheesy, Christmas movies. They always leave me with a warm fuzzy this time of year.

Day 13 — I am thankful that I love to read and that my life has always been full of books. I can’t imagine my world without them. And how fortunate that writing fiction books is my passion. Win-win, y’all!

​Day 12 — I am thankful that I’m computer literate. Enough said!!

Day 11 — I am thankful for all the online sites where folks post their favorite recipes. My daughter and I are doing a limited version (she’s about to pop grandson #4) of our annual Christmas Cookie Day and I’m making Peppermint Stick Treats using a recipe posted on Facebook.

Day 10 — I am thankful that I’m a CPA, have good ole common sense, and have good radar for BS. Thus, I can pretty much tell when a politician is blowing smoke and saying things that are illogical and “so not true.” Of course, this also applies to customer service reps telling me why my paid warranty doesn’t apply.

Day 9 — I am thankful that my ankle healed after breaking it two years ago, other than osteoarthritis, so that I can take my dog, Dexter, on daily walks. Honestly our walk is the highlight of his day and he shows me his thanks with multiple doggie-kisses when we return home.

Day 8 — I am thankful that I’m not a fan of reality shows on television other than American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. I prefer to watch TV shows with scripts that give real jobs to writers and actors.​

Day 7 — I am thankful that I have no issue with saying “Merry Christmas” rather than the PC “Happy Holidays.” Honestly, have a glass of wine or a beer, talk to your neighbor, and just chill. Political correctness is so last month.

Day 6 — I am thankful that I have a good sense of humor and can laugh at the dumbest things. After all, laughing is and will always be, the best form of therapy.

Day 5 — I am thankful that I love dogs. I adopted Dexter from the Houston Humane Society in June. He’d been picked up as a stray on the streets of Houston and had been at the shelter for six weeks. Honestly, rescue dogs are the absolute best. They love you as much as you love them.

Day 4 — I am thankful that I have an analytical and creative brain and that I’m financially literate. I’ve always been a good planner and it allowed me to retire two years early after forty years of working at the day job. Planning now? . . . not so much. I just wing it these days.

Day 3 — I am thankful I have a nice roof over my head and a good furnace. By the way, what is wrong with the weather? The temperature has been cold along the Texas Gulf Coast. I thought global-warming was heating us all up.

Day 2 — I am thankful for my family. I have wonderful kids and adorable grandchildren. I pray I will live long enough to hold a great-grandchild in my arms. Wow, that will be so cool! Of course, will I use the word “cool” then?

Day 1— I am thankful for my health. I’ve had two cancer scares, breast and thyroid, and both turned out okay. I do not assume this will be the case forever and until that stressful day rises on the horizon, I am grateful for each healthy day.

by Karen Sue Burns on November 20th, 2014

​I’m so happy I live along the Texas Gulf Coast!
I was recently tagged by Donnell Bell (www.donnellannbell.com), author of Buried Agendas, for a blog post called Meet the Character. This involves a series of questions about my main character from a finished work or a work in progress. My latest release is a collection of stories titled Christmas in Sugar Land and I selected the heroine from “A Holiday Surprise.” I’ve entered this story in the novella category for the 2015 RITA award given by Romance Writers of America. Here goes . . .
1) What is the name of your character?  Avery Burke
2) Is she fictional or a historic person?  Avery is a purely fictional character. Although her first name was inspired by the past president of the Kiss of Death chapter of Romance Writers of America, Miss Avery Flynn. She was a fantastic president by the way and is one fine writer. (www.averyflynn.com)
3) When and where is the story set?  “A Holiday Surprise” is set in Sugar Land, Texas and the story begins on December 1.
4) What should we know about her?  Avery is 44 years old and works full-time as an indie cozy mystery writer. She has been very successful with her first series, which has been optioned for a television series. Wishful dreaming on my part? Plus, she loves to cook, as do all my heroines. A couple of her recipes are included in the book’s Enriched Content.
5) What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?  Avery has been divorced for fifteen years from her college sweetheart. Unfortunately, he is her one true love, and she has not remarried. Out of the blue he returns to Sugar Land and turns her scripted life upside down.
6) What is the personal goal of the character?  Avery’s external goal is to achieve even more success as an indie author. She is dedicated to reaching the pinnacle of indie publishing. Her internal goal involves putting her past to rest while forgiving herself for not being able to become pregnant and give birth to a child, which caused her divorce.
7) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?  This is the first collection of Christmas in Sugar Land stories. Going forward, I plan to publish a collection of stores each year featuring fictional residents of Sugar Land. There is always the possibility that a dead body will appear.
8) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?  Christmas in Sugar Land - Collection One is available today on Amazon!

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