Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday with WNY Author: Stephanie Haefner

Stephanie Haefner dishes about her Karma Kameleon series.

A Bitch Named Karma wasn’t the first book I wrote, but it certainly holds a dear spot in my heart. It was the first book published. The first book that grabbed someone’s attention. The first book that made me think, “Yeah….maybe I am good at this writing thing after all.”
My third attempt at novel writing, A Bitch Named Karma was my second novel completed. I loooooved that book when I finished it. The main character, Lexi, was so….not me. She said what was on her mind and wasn’t afraid to throw a few curse words. She didn’t let people walk on her. She owned her sexuality. She was strong and independent. But not without her flaws and insecurities. Her life falls apart more than once and she has to pick up the pieces and figure out what will make her happiest. And she does. She wants it all, and gets it.
But the road to publication was very long. It was my second completed book, but I went on to write two more before I found a home for Lexi and her story. So many times I wondered if I should just give up. Maybe no one else would see what I did. Finally it found a home and it was the perfect fit. My editor at Lyrical Press helped me turn that book into something amazing, something I could be so ridiculously proud of. And I couldn’t wait for the world to meet Lexi.
Since then, Lexi has returned for a sequel, Karma Kameleon, giving readers even more of Lexi’s life and a slip back into her old ways. But readers also saw her grow and mature and become a person she never knew she could be, or even wanted to be. 

A Bitch Name Karma Excerpt

I stomped down the hall, ready to raise some hell. A hand-written sign had been plastered to the door: Sheila Brown— Editor. The scent of a black Sharpie wafted into my nostrils as I pounded on the door. I heard a screechy “Come in” and found a middle-aged woman sitting behind the desk.
She flipped through a manuscript and didn’t look up when I strode through the door.   
“I’ve read all your books, Ms. Marshall, including the latest.”
“Oh, I see.”
She was well prepared for only being on the job one day.
“Marisol Takes Manhattan, your newest and first in a series.” She paused to push her glasses up on her nose, and I awaited her praise. “It absolutely sucks.”
Feeling like a vacuum had sucked all the air out of my lungs, I struggled for oxygen.
Everything around me went gray and the words “absolutely sucks” echoed in my brain over and over. I’d slaved over this book for the better part of six months, making every sentence perfect.
A shrill laugh blared into my ears. It sounded familiar. I couldn’t place it, but knew it didn’t come from Sheila. She sat emotionless.
“What do you mean? Are you sure you read the whole thing?”
“Yes, every boring, plotless, cliché-filled word.”
The room started to spin and a tingle radiated throughout my legs. Fearful that I might black out, I moved a box of office supplies from a chair and sat down. I breathed slowly and deeply, staring at her, wondering if I’d heard her right. How could she possibly say that? I was Lexi Marshall—a multi-published author. Women adored my books. They devoured them. This malicious statement insulted every fiber of my being.
My temperature began to rise as bewilderment changed to anger. Ms. Editor handed me my disc, then ripped some sheets from a legal pad and shoved those at me, too. They were filled top to bottom with chicken scratch.
“I made notes for you. Revise and have it back to me in two weeks.”
Finally finding the confidence and attitude I’d possessed before entering her office, I asked, “And what if I refuse?”
“Then you can try and sell your garbage to another publisher.”
* * * *
I left the office, stomping down the street with my jaw clenched tight like a pit bull’s. I expected the pressure to crumble my teeth, but instead it gave me a massive atom-bomb-like headache.
How could this happen? Women everywhere loved my books. This Sheila had no friggin’ clue. Who the hell was she to tell me how to write my novel? An archaic, styleless shrew couldn’t possibly know what today’s fashion forward woman wanted to read.
I seethed and walked on, remembering my massage appointment. The thought of hot rocks being rubbed on my skin sounded excruciatingly painful. I just wanted to go home and drown myself in a bottle of my favorite cabernet. The fact that it was only ten o’clock in the morning meant zero to me.
I keyed into my apartment and Cha Cha ran up to me, jumping around, her tiny painted nails scratching at my leg. A hyper dog was the last thing I needed to deal with. Pushing her away, I grabbed the wine from the kitchen and walked toward the bedroom. My body yearned for the high-powered jets of the whirlpool tub.
As I approached the door, high and low pitched moans sounded from behind it like a porno flick on full volume. Were Betty and Floyd screwing again? My eighty-year-old neighbor’s bedroom butted up against mine. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d heard them getting it on mid-day, but they’d never been this loud before. I walked into my bedroom and found two naked bodies on top of my velvet duvet, the woman wearing my black hooker boots. Zak’s hairless, perfectly tanned ass pumped up and down and neither of them even noticed me there. I threw the bottle of wine on the floor, shattering it on the hardwood.
“Oh my God!” the woman exclaimed, pulling a purple beaded bolster pillow in front of her. My boyfriend lay naked between her thighs and her first thought was to cover her flabby boobs?
Zak jumped off the bed. “It’s not what it looks like.”
“Oh, so you weren’t screwing this slut just now? I didn’t hear her screaming your name?”
He stood there, a bright pink condom still standing erect. He looked to the floor and I took this simple action as an admission of guilt.
“How could you?” I managed to ask, looking from Zak to the woman. “And in my boots!”
I turned and ran from the apartment, flew down three flights of stairs to the street and kept on running. I didn’t know where to go, but I had to get away.
As my feet pounded on the pavement, I heard the laughing again, this time even louder. Could everyone on the street hear it, or just me?
Surely I looked like a crazy woman as I ran down the sidewalk dodging in and around pedestrians, nearly taking a header into a produce stand. I slowed down after that—last thing I needed was a concussion. Couples walked past, holding hands, cuddling. Yeah, they looked all mushy and lovey-dovey on the outside but I bet those women didn’t know. The guys were probably getting some on the side, too. I scowled at a passing male and when I wasn’t paying attention, the heel of my favorite pair of Manolos caught in a sidewalk vent and snapped off.
“Can this day get any worse?” I asked the gods, an invitation for more disaster. As the words came out of my mouth the sky darkened and a feeling of doom enveloped me. A truck zoomed by, splashing my cream cashmere coat with the dirtiest, grime-filled muck water imaginable.

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