Karen Randau believes she was always meant to write. From the time she learned to print in block letters she says she processed life events by putting them in writing.
Randau’s most recent book, “Deadly Payload,” was selected as a finalist in the Book Excellence Awards for thrillers, sponsored by Literary Excellence, Inc., and the Beverly Hills Book Awards. Both recognize excellence in writing, design and marketability.
The novel is the fourth in her series, Rim Country Mysteries, published by Short on Time Books of Florence, Ariz.
The series is supplemented by a novella, “Deadly Reception,” Randau was invited to write as part of the Tawnee Mountain Mysteries series, also published by Short on Time Books.
A resident of Payson for 16 years, Randau earned a degree in journalism and worked in public relations. Until her retirement in February 2018 she was with an international nonprofit based in the Valley for 28 years.
The demands of corporate public relations writing did not squeeze away her creativity though. Her first attempt at writing a novel arose from a story her son told her on his return from a Boy Scout camp.
“From what he said, it sounded like they had seen Bigfoot and my reaction was, ‘Why don’t moms ever see Bigfoot?’” And that gave her an idea for a novel.
It started as a novel for adults, but after eight edits it turned into something for young adults.
Six years ago, when Randau was director of the international nonprofit’s public relations department, she confided to one of the writers that she had “crazy ideas swimming around” in her head. Her friend said that meant there was a novel trying to get out. So, she became a novelist by night and a corporate P.R. director by day.
It took about a year to write her first book, “Deadly Deceit,” which Short on Time Books was willing to publish if it were part of a series. Randau says she learned about the publishing company by networking.
She says she struggled with the oft-repeated message of finding a strong voice for your writing and admits it is still hard for her to explain it to other writers.
“I think it is creating a protagonist that has a strong sound to them, the reader knows their voice.”
Randau’s protagonist is Rita Avery and she is introduced in a story built around a mass shooting in a movie theater and the discovery that everything she thought she knew about her husband was a lie. The subsequent books in the series each took about six months to write.
In addition to the previously mentioned titles, the series includes “Deadly Inheritance” and “Deadly Choices.” She says while all the books, including the novella, are chronological, they also stand on their own. The books are available through Amazon.
She is starting a new series and is looking for an agent. While her experience with Short on Time Books was wonderful, her goal with the new series is to find a publisher with a larger catalog and more marketing support. She says marketing is difficult; she especially struggles with speaking engagements. A friend and fellow novelist is adept at speaking to groups and as a result sells at least twice as many books as Randau. Still, she is willing to speak to groups. Contact her at karenrandauauthor.com.
Her advice to other writers:
• Have a desire to write and know it is going to be a lot of work
• Write every day — practice makes perfect
• Decide what works for your writing — using an outline or being a “pantser” (writing from the seat of the pants) or working from somewhere in the middle
• Stretch your boundaries
• Write what you know, but remember there are lots of opportunities to “know” more thanks to research
• Write the best product you can, but don’t rely on your own judgment to determine if it’s ready to send to a publisher
• Family and friends are not the best choices for checks and balances on your writing; find a developmental editor — she had two — who will tell you if the work is ready or not and also tell you why it isn’t ready
• Find a group of published writers willing to critique your work
• Educate yourself on the publishing industry — developmental editors; line editors, who help with sentence structure and grammatical issues; proofreaders; etc.
• Network with local writers or join larger groups, she is a member of the Sisters in Crime Arizona chapter, Desert Sleuths, which meets every month in Phoenix; attend writer conferences
Arizona Professional Writers, Rim Country Chapter
The next meeting of this local group is at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 14 at Majestic Rim on Tyler Parkway, Payson.
Come and share your current work with the members. If you are struggling with new ideas or are a seasoned writer and want some feedback, this is the meeting for you.
Anyone in the community who wants to explore writing is welcome.
Sisters in Crime
The group has more than 3,500 members in 51 chapters worldwide. It offers networking, advice and support to mystery authors. Members are authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians bound by affection for the mystery genre and support of women who write mysteries.
The Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter is located in the Phoenix area and serves members throughout the Arizona. It meets the third Wednesday of each month at The Newton (same building as the Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix), 300 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix. No RSVPs needed. Attendees pay for their own meals and drinks. Arrive at 6 p.m. for dinner and networking; the business meeting is at 6:30 p.m.; with a speaker or program from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The meeting is Aug. 21 and the program will have members writing a short story mystery together.
• Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2019 Colorado Gold Conference is Sept. 6-8 at the Denver Renaissance Stapleton Hotel, Denver, Colo. Find details at rmfw.org
• The Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter’s 2019 WriteNow! Conference, “Becoming the Writer You Were Meant to Be” is Sept. 27-28 at Embassy Suites by Hilton, 4415 E. Paradise Valley Parkway South, Phoenix
It is a full day of internationally acclaimed, award-winning authors and industry insiders sharing their secrets to success in seminars, hands-on workshops and panel discussions.
For more go to desertsleuths.com.
• Bouchercon Dallas 2019 is the world’s premier annual crime fiction event. Join the mystery community — from authors, fans, and publishers to reviewers, booksellers, and editors — for four days of panels, parties, and pure mystery fun Oct. 31 through Nov. 3; for details go to Bouchercon.com