Karin Tabke (Harlow’s) Story

Good morning, folks.  Today’s blog is a continuation of Edie’s and my Monday interviews of the writer’s journey of our MM ladies.  Today I’m presenting Karin Tabke (Harlow’s) story.  A tad long, but well worth reading.  Karin’s story truly is an inspiration to newbie writers everywhere and certainly a lesson in perseverance that anyone can appreciate and learn from.

It seems like just yesterday I sold my first book.  I could say it was a dream I had finally realized but for me, it was never a dream. To me, dreams are things you close your eyes and imagine. For me, publishing was a goal. A goal I systematically strategized and worked my ass off for.

Back when I was writing toward publication there was only one venue:  New York print.  That was what I wanted, and that is what I worked toward.  I got it too. After hundreds of rejection letters, I finally sold to Hilary Sares at Kensington. I had met her at a local conference a couple years prior to selling to her (a conference where I knew no one but didn’t let that stop me from going.).  For the record, Hilary rejected me countless times before she bought me. But like the energizer bunny, I kept submitting. It never occurred to me to take each one of her no thank yous as the door permanently closing.  I kept knocking, she kept answering and finally, one day she invited me in.

But let me back up.  My first writing love was romantic suspense.  It’s what I read and what I loved to write.  It was getting me nowhere with agents.  But even though I wrote RS, the romance part was always emotional, and I never backed out of the bedroom.  I naturally wrote steamy.  So when Ellora’s Cave came along and ripped the door off the bedroom, it was a game changer for a lot of authors.  However, I didn’t submit to EC.  Two reasons, the main one being, my goal was New York and that was where I would continue to focus, and secondly, while I naturally wrote steamy, at the time, I didn’t write that explicit.  Hah, boy have things changed!

So, Karin took a step back and realized that while the RS market was glutted, the erotic market was just opening up.  So, I took an RS idea I had, heated it up and voila, I had a smoker. Naturally I submitted to Hilary thinking it was perfect for the then very smexy Brava imprint. She rejected it, calling it ‘too raunchy’. Hrmph! But, she emailed me nine months after she rejected it and asked if it was still available (at the time Kensington was working on launching the smokin’ hot erotica line Aphrodisia).  While my novella was under consideration at Red Sage, the editor who I was corresponding with had not made me an offer although I knew one was eminent.  So, I told Hilary the truth.  She made an offer the following week.  I immediately contacted the agent I had wanted all along and who had rejected my RS all along.  She read the novella and a proposal I had been working on (which turned into GOOD GIRL GONE BAD) over the weekend, called me Monday and said, “Let’s do this!”

My novella, Stakeout was part of THE HARD STUFF anthology, the first antho released in the new Aphrodisia line.  It was a big deal then.  Lots of excitement surrounding the imprint. Not much of an advance, but that antho earned out quick and continues seven years later to still earn royalties.

So, you’d have thought I would be jumping up and down ecstatic.  I sold! I sold!

It was kind of anticlimactic in a way.  My goal had been to sell to New York.  I sold a novella and two single titles all in the same week.   As I sat in my hot tub sipping Dom in celebration, I said to my husband, “Ok, so now what?”

“You write more books.”

I shrugged and said, “I don’t know if I want to.  I mean, my goal all along was to sell to New York, I’ve done that.”

He went on to encourage me to stick it out for a while and see how I liked it. Needless to say, I love it! But let me back up again.  I think because I had worked so insanely hard for so long, by the time I achieved my goal, I was exhausted.

When I started writing I didn’t know any other writers.  I wasn’t a member of RWA.  I finally joined, but didn’t go to a local chapter meeting for almost a year after I joined National.  When I finally did go to a chapter meeting, it was amazing.  I was like a starry-eyed kid in a candy store. I was in the wonderful world of romance writers.  Micki Nuding from Pocket was the guest that day and she did a presentation on query letters. So many aha moments. But mostly, I just stared at her in awe.  She was the epitome of what I imagined a real live New York editor to be.  She wore a most excellent dark blue chic suit, stylish hairdo, ridiculously kewl black alligator skin slingback stilettoes and she had a deep raspy voice that to this day I can still hear.  (of course little did I know that Micki would become one of my most favorite people on the planet!)

I learned a lot that day.  Most from Micki but a bigger lesson from the 50 + writers in that room: segregation in the writer world was alive and well.  Published authors sat over there and unpubs sat anywhere else as long as it wasn’t at the published authors’ table.  It pissed me off. But I digress.

I worked hard, alone.  The internet wasn’t what it is today.  There were a few writer focused yahoo loops.  I joined Charlotte Dillon’s group and Jess Peterson’s.  There was chatter on them about CPs.  I was arrogant enough at the time to believe I didn’t need a CP.  Wrong!  I finally sucked it up and responded to a casual email sent out on Charlotte’s loop by either Amy Knupp or Maya Banks.  We were all at the same level and we immediately got along and began to furiously write, submit and shred the crap out of each others’ stories.  It was an eye opener for me, and I loved it.  We’re still dear friends all of these years later.

I think for me, having two CP’s that I trusted and who got romance was invaluable to me as a writer.   I met Edie, Liz and Michelle as CP’s.  We’re still good friends.  Those relationships seem to defy time and miles.  I contribute much of my success to them.

I still have a CP (wouldn’t be caught dead without her), and she has a lot more patience for my work than I would.  Virna rocks it, and she always brings issues to light I didn’t see.  Thank you, Virna!

I never doubted I would sell to New York, I think that played heavily in my selling, but my arrogance hindered me.  I thought I was good enough from the get-go.  I wasn’t.  Not even close. And it wasn’t until I accepted that I wasn’t as awesome as I thought I was that I began to dig deeper, work harder and grow in leaps and bounds as a storyteller and writer.

If I had it to do all over again there are a few things I’d tweak, but for me, it’s the journey and those who took it with me that I think about most. I don’t think about lists or numbers or advances when I think of my career, I think of the people I’ve met and the ones I have yet to meet that make me smile.  Because like the stories I write, this business is about relationships.  And I’m a relationship kind of gal!

But after all is said and done, my journey is not much different than most success stories, because the equation for success is always the same:  hard work + determination + more hard work + confidence + some talent + never taking no for an answer + more hard work + not giving up = success.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Karin Tabke

About Liz Kreger

Liz Kreger writes science fiction/romances and to date, has two books published by Samhain Publishing ... FORGET ABOUT TOMORROW and PROMISE FOR TOMORROW. Liz is presently branching out to contemporary paranormals and is experimenting with urban fantasy.
This entry was posted in Karin's Posts, Liz's Posts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Karin Tabke (Harlow’s) Story

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Karin, you had a wild and crazy ride – and you’re still on it! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  2. Amy R says:

    I think all readers should read this blog. It helps those of us who do not write books appreciate all you guys do. When I used to buy books without really following authors via social media, I never really thought about what it took to write a book. It entertained me and I moved on to the next. Now that I have followed MM for awhile and several other authors on Twitter and Facebook I get to see the amount of work you guys put into your books. The way I feel I can give back is writing reviews. It takes just a few minutes of our time but might really help out an author. If you guys can take the months and years to come up with a book to entertain us, the least we can do is buy the book and review it for you! Thanks for sharing your story, Karin! I want to read books from all you MM gals. Which book of yours should I start with (that isn’t too steamy)? 🙂

    • Amy, we appreciate the support and the honest reviews!! Thank you.
      I love my job, and could not think of anything else in the world I’d rather be doing! Most of my stories are steamy, but the Harlow L.O.S.T. books (ENEMY LOVER and ENEMY MINE) are action packed and my Tabke historicals are dramatic romances set in medieval England. If you do read any of my books, let me know what you think!
      Karin* Tabke aka Harlow!`s last blog was …CAPA Winner!

  3. Misty Evans says:

    Karin, what a wonderful story. I feel inspired and ready to tackle my work for the day. Thanks for sharing and hitting it on the head…many of us rely on our friends to make it in this tough business.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story, Karen. And I agree, the best thing about the writing journey is the friends you make along the way. When I started writing, I had no idea how many truly wonderful and giving people I would meet. They laugh with you, cry with you, cheer with you, and crack that whip to keep your butt in the chair. Happy Monday to all you MM ladies!
    Robin Bielman`s last blog was …Karma or Coincidence? Plus a Giveaway!

  5. Liz Kreger says:

    Thanx for sharing your story with us, Karin. Like I said above, it is truly inspirational … even for authors who are published. Yes, you have to have talent, but you also need to have perseverance. Arrogance? Sure. I think most of us have a touch of that in our make up. Might be part of the whole creative process.

  6. Liz, earned arrogance is ok, but in the beginning I hadn’t earned crap. so it hindered me. But I had earned arrogance in other areas, so it worked out. 😉
    Karin* Tabke aka Harlow!`s last blog was …CAPA Winner!

  7. Eliza Daly says:

    Loved reading about your journey Karin. As a newly pubbed author who wrote numerous books over numerous years, I can relate to your journey. And no offense, but glad to hear you weren’t an overnight success. 🙂 I love the “how I persevered despite hundreds of rejections” stories better than the “I landed my agent after sending out ten queries and my editor after five.” Very inspirational. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Dale Mayer says:

    Ah Karin – such a crazy ride! Your success is well deserved! And you’re right, it’s our friends, honest cps, that help us on our journey.

    Here’s to many more bottles of Dom!
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Blog Tour for Family Blood Ties series – Vampire in Denial and Vampire in Distress!

  9. Karin,
    It’s after midnight that I’m reading this, but I just had to say how much I loved your writing story — especially your persistence and that “what’s next?” attitude ;). Writers can never really rest…there’s always more to learn, more to write, new directions to explore, change to accept…

  10. I love that the original group of CPs are still in touch and friends. As you say, these relationships defy time and career.

    And of course Micki Nuding is the bee knees 🙂
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …The Entangled Anthology – A year on

  11. Cynthia Eden says:

    Wonderful story! 😉
    Cynthia Eden`s last blog was …Olde City, New Blood

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