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Published: Sunday, 2/13/2005

Local members say association no lonely-hearts club

BY GEORGE J. TANBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
At a Maumee Valley Chapter of Romance Writers meeting, Denise Koch, left, and Lori Karayianni, and Jennie Moening discuss Ms. Koch's book that's coming out under the name Denise Lynn. At a Maumee Valley Chapter of Romance Writers meeting, Denise Koch, left, and Lori Karayianni, and Jennie Moening discuss Ms. Koch's book that's coming out under the name Denise Lynn.
MORRISON / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Fiction writing often is a lonely occupation.

But the members of the Maumee Valley Chapter of Romance Writers of America have adopted a Three Musketeers approach to the profession: "One for all, and all for one."

The bond formed between the group's member authors was apparent yesterday afternoon during a chapter-sponsored tea and book giveaway at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library's Holland branch, where romance novel fans and writers gathered to talk shop.

The buzz centered on the good fortune some of the authors have experienced in recent months.

After publishing 30 paperback novels, Lori and Tony Karayianni, of Toledo, who write as a team under the pen name Tori Carrington, have their first hardbound book, Sofie Metropolis, coming out in June.

In three weeks, Toledoan Denise Koch, aka Denise Lynn, will see her first non-e-novel book published in paperback.

Another first novel, by Elizabeth Vaughan, a Toledo lawyer, also is on the way. Warprize is scheduled for a June release.

Meanwhile, Barb Nagel is hoping for similar good fortune. The Erie, Mich., author's Mistaken Identity recently was sent to her agent, who is seeking a publisher for the work.

The Karayiannis, Ms. Koch, and Ms. Nagel founded the Maumee Valley chapter about 13 years ago, setting the tone for the group's tight-knit relationship.

"We've all watched each other struggle through the years. So when you have a chance to help somebody, you do," said Ms. Koch, who herself has benefited from that philosophy.

In 2003, the Karayiannis met an editor looking for a romance novelist specializing in the medieval genre. They mentioned Ms. Koch, and she soon sold Falcon's Desire, the first installment in a trilogy.

"We meet for inspiration and support. We share ideas, and we do a lot of networking," Ms. Koch said.

Even with all the support, the effort to publish is taxing and success often remains elusive.

"I wrote for 12 years [before I was published]," Ms. Koch said. "There were times I wanted to quit after I got too many rejections in a day. But I could not [stop] writing."

The traditional romance novel appears to be evolving. The genre used to hold more than 50 percent of the paperback fiction market, but that figure has dipped in recent years with suspense books, the No. 2 genre, closing the gap, said Ms. Koch, a former board member of the national romance writers' group, which has 9,000 members.

As a result, the Karayiannis' book features a Greek-American private detective - the first book of a 10-book series.

"We're calling it My Big, Fat Greek Wedding meets Magnum P.I.," Mrs. Karayianni said.

Ms. Nagel calls her books romantic suspense novels. And Ms. Vaughan appears to have benefitted from an even newer genre. She has always written fantasy stories with a romantic element, just what publisher Tor Books was looking for.

"I was in the right place at the right time," she said.

Once they are published, the authors hope the books sell - lots of them. Which is why Ms. Koch was pleased to run into Judith Egan of Holland yesterday, who plucked a couple of books from the give-away table.

Ms. Egan described herself as a romance novel addict of sorts, known to read six different books at a time.

The downside?

"I spend too much of my paychecks on books."

The upside?

"I read every morning before I go to work. It's like escaping to another world," she said.

Contact George Tanber at: gtanber@theblade.com or 734-241-3610.



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