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Author of Organizing Elizabeth (mystery/romance)
Media Coverage

Reminder Publications, East Longmeadow, Mass.
October 2009

Characters inspired Karas to become a novelist

By Courtney Llewellyn
Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW Iris Karas, a former Longmeadow resident, sometimes hears voices in her head - but don't worry, the voices don't belong to her, they belong to her characters.

A newly-minted author, Karas recently released "Organizing Elizabeth," a mystery-romance novel, and she will be traveling from her current home in Corpus Christi, Texas, to do some readings from the story at Storrs Library on Oct. 21.

"I wish I could tell you I had a formula [for how to write a book], that I had a novel deep within me or an MFA," Karas joked during an interview with Reminder Publications, "but it's not true. I was in a particular point in my life where I had a lot of time on my hands ... time for a good exhale."

Karas launched her writing career in 1998 during a leave from her studies at law school in Ohio and said she started by trying to write about her feelings concerning her ailing father. "It was too maudlin," she remembered, "so I thought, well, try writing anything at all."

She added that she never thought her ideas would turn into a novel, but one day out popped Elizabeth and the opening scene of her debut novel.

"I talked about Elizabeth with my family like she was a real person," Karas said.

Elizabeth is a professional organizer who uses color-coded "to do" lists in her daily life a real no-nonsense kind of gal. She meets Joe, her polar opposite, in an unusual way, and then suddenly, there's a murder the two of them have to deal with.

Their relationship develops as they search for clues using their strengths Elizabeth's attention to detail and Joe's street smarts and try to keep Elizabeth from becoming a victim herself.

Western Massachusetts native Anna Kirwan served as Karas' editor during the writing process and Karas credits Kirwan with helping her take her writing to the next level.

"I like to be pulled in by a book right away," Karas said, "and that's the kind of book I wanted to write. It's character driven, with quirky characters and fast-paced dialogue."

The writing of the story was a spontaneous process for the author. She talked about a scene early in the book where someone is found dead, and a member of her family, after hearing about it, asked who did it.

"At that point, I didn't know," she explained. "I didn't know if they jumped, if they were pushed, if they were poisoned... I've heard authors say you can't write if you don't know where you're going and I've heard authors say you can."

She's working on a sequel to "Organizing Elizabeth" right now, and she said it was definitely harder to write the original because she didn't have a clear sense of what she was doing she "just kept writing."

Karas decided to publish her first novel independently and founded Hold That Thought Publishing to do so, with the aid of Jan Sadler of Sadler Publications, based in Sunderland.

"It's all about tapping into what works for you," Karas stated.

Barbara Fitzgerald, Adult Services Librarian, said Karas approached the library about hosting a reading. Storrs Library normally doesn't search out authors for readings, Fitzgerald explained.

"People offer to come and share their passions with the public," she said. Those passions range from writing to knitting to cooking.

"I'm very excited for my reading [at Storrs Library]," Karas said. "It's a wonderful chance to see my friends and colleagues and give a reading in a library I was a part of."

Karas will be at Storrs Library, 693 Longmeadow St., on Oct. 21 starting at 7 p.m. The reading is free and open to the public, and copies of "Organizing Elizabeth" will be available for purchase.

For more information, visit the author's Web site at


The Republican (Springfield, Mass.)
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Author will read from debut novel

LONGMEADOW - Former town resident and Enfield native Iris Karas will return to Longmeadow on Oct. 21 to read from her debut novel, "Organizing Elizabeth."

The reading, free and open to the public, will take place at 7 p.m. at the Storrs Library at 693 Longmeadow St.

Karas, now residing in Corpus Christi, Texas, will read excerpts from the mystery-romance novel and sign copies of her book. Gift-packaged books will also be offered for sale.

Independently published in 2008 by Karas, "Organizing Elizabeth" is a story centering on a main character, Elizabeth, who is a professional organizer with no time for nonsense or for people who might challenge her style.

The flow of her highly structured life with daily lists of things to do, for herself and her sometimes difficult clients, is derailed when she is thrust into the center of a murder mystery.

"In the midst of the situation, an unlikely romance develops almost against Elizabeth's will," Karas said. "Elizabeth and Joe are polar opposites, but in hindsight, so made for each other."

The pair's relationship develops as they search for clues, matching Elizabeth's acute attention to detail and Joe's common-sense approach to the big picture - all while keeping Elizabeth from becoming the third murder victim.

"'Organizing Elizabeth' is a beautiful book with a heart, about what we women do when we're 'too' intelligent and trip ourselves up," said Sarah Hafner, author of "The Elements of Style, A Novel." "Iris Karas is a gifted story-teller who has stamped something important on every page."

Karas holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northeastern University, where she majored in psychology and community mental health counseling. A high school and middle school guidance counselor since 2004, she launched her writing career in 1998 during a leave from her brief studies at law school in Ohio.

She began work on her first novel, "Organizing Elizabeth," while working and raising a family in the Toledo area.


WMCA (Western Massachusetts Counselors Association) Newsletter; December 2008, Volume 5, Issue 3

First-time author (and former WMCA member), Iris Karas, debuts romance-suspense novel

Iris Karas, a graduate of Northeastern University where she majored in psychology and community mental health counseling, has been a high school guidance counselor since 2004.

Some of you may recall our former WMCA member. Iris graduated from Enrico Fermi High School and after college moved to Longmeadow. She was a counselor at East Windsor High School with Laura Arnold.

Iris launched her writing career in 1998 during a leave from her brief studies at law school in Ohio. She began work on her first novel, Organizing Elizabeth, while working and raising a family in the Toledo area. A resident of Western Massachusetts for eight years, in 2001 she developed a professional working relationship with her editor, novelist and poet Anna Kirwan.

The novel, entitled Organizing Elizabeth, is set in a small college town in contemporary times. The story introduces Elizabeth, professional organizer, whose personal life is as compulsively ordered as her color-coded to-do lists. Her days are outlined on yellow legal pads and her thoughts revolve around the needs of her sometimes-difficult clients.

Enter Joe, Elizabeth’s “polar opposite” - spontaneous, instinctive, not terribly sophisticated, and completely, “not her type.' Their lives become intriguingly entwined when it’s discovered that Elizabeth was the last person to be with not one, but two people found murdered.

Iris describes her first book as a process of falling in love with her characters. “Elizabeth and Joe wind up being great together, each just what the other needs…..”

Karas further notes that working with such opposite personalities was a ”considerable but enlightening” challenge.

Are you hooked??? If you’d like to learn more, visit Iris Karas's website:

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