Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview with Debut Author Katy Lee

(Please forgive the format, I'm trying to figure out blogger's new thing) Hi, Jessica, and Jessica’s readers! I am really excited to be hanging out with you today in Jessica’s virtual home. Thank you for having me!
Katy Lee writes higher purpose stories in high speed worlds. As an inspirational author, speaker, home-schooling mom, and children’s ministry director, she has dedicated her life to sharing tales of love, from the greatest love story ever told to those sweet romantic stories of falling in love. Her fresh and unique voice brings a fast-paced and modern feel to her romances that are sure to resonate with readers long after the last page. Her debut novel Real Virtue is a finalist in many writing contests, and took second place in the 2011 Georgia Maggie Award of Excellence. Katy lives in Connecticut with her husband, three children, and two cats. 1. How many manuscripts have you written, and did the one that sold feel different? How many years have you been writing? I’m going to answer these two questions together because they kind of follow each other. I started writing in the fifth grade. I can remember the thrill I got from researching for that story. I set it on the coast of California—I’d never been to California, and this is before Internet. I had to rely on Encyclopedias and reference books from the libraries, many of which weren’t allowed to be checked out, so I spent many hours, practically living at the library before I was satisfied that I had enough info. But even with all that info, I struggled with writing because my stories were always filled with huge info dumps. I guess I wanted to show the reader all the research I did. Except, the pages of my stories were filled with all these details, and the story lacked feeling. Which leads me to your question about how Real Virtue, the book that finally sold, felt different than all the others. I put more emphasis on the heart of the story rather than the research. I wrote the feelings first. I focused on the characters and their plights, then folded in details that my characters would notice while in their POV. (Point of view) I learned that I didn’t have to set a scene with all these details unless these details were important to my character or my character was noticing them. And I also learned that my hero will notice a scene differently than my heroine. For example, he would never say, “Sweetheart, I love your magenta silk wrap blouse.” It just wouldn’t feel natural. So, it was the first time I put the characters first and let them tell me their story and why they hurt or what they loved most in their own words and actions. And the end result: When my beta readers read Real Virtue the first time and called me crying I knew I finally did it. 3)Tell us a little about the events leading up to your first sale. The events that led up to selling Real Virtue were contests. RV came in third place in the Faith, Hope and Love’s Touched by Love Contest and second in the Georgia’s RWA Maggie Award of Excellence. That was the affirmation I needed to send my manuscript off. My acceptance letter from my publisher said I had a talent for world-building. (That’s my love for research shining through) But the letter also said I created fascinating characters that broke the mold. 4) What is your biggest piece of advice to writers wanting to get published? My advice to unpublished writers: Don’t be afraid to break the mold. Write from your heart, from your characters’ hearts. Don’t just research details and setting, research your characters as well. Thank you so much for inviting me to hang out with you today! I love comments, and I would also like to stay connected with you all, so please check out my website at www.KatyLeeBooks.com. You’ll see links for Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, where we can stay in touch. Real Virtue is available in ebook now, (Paperback in the fall) at www.Amazon.com and www.BN.com. I would love to hear what you think of Mel and Jeremy’s story! And now, here is a bit about my romantic-suspense, Real Virtue: In a virtual reality game where she can fly, someone’s aiming to take her down. Mel Mesini is a New York City restaurateur and an avid, virtual reality world traveler. But her successful life—both online and in reality—takes a swerve the night her father is seriously injured in a hit-and-run. To make matters worse, Officer Jeremy Stiles, the man who had once cut her deep with his harsh, rejecting words, is heading the investigation. When Jeremy realizes Mel is the actual target, his plan is to protect her—whether she wants him to or not. What he wants is answers, especially about this online game she plays. Is it a harmless pastime as she says? Or is she using it to cover something up? As a faceless predator destroys the things that matter to her, Jeremy knows he’s running out of time before she loses the one thing that matters most—her real life. Thank you so much for joining us, Katy Lee! Katy talks about breaking the mold. How are you doing this in your writing? Your life?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Next Debutante Up to Bat: The Lovely Keli Gwyn

I met sweet Keli Gwyn when I first started blogging. She was the first person who ever interviewed me about writing.
Keli Gwyn writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. When she emerges from her fictional world, she enjoys strolling past the stately Victorian houses in her hometown, drooling her way through the Coach factory outlet store, and fueling her creativity with frequent trips to Taco Bell.

Not only that, but she is a creative and generous person who sends out hand-written notes, gifts and has a real flair for scrapbooks. I won a First Sale scrapbook which I'm still working on, but it's incredible!
Keli's book sold last year and will be releasing in June. You can pre-order A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California HERE.
Publication can happen to you!

Here she is:

1. How many manuscripts have you written, and did the one that sold feel different?

I’ve completed six historical romance manuscripts and part of a contemporary. The latter is a sorry excuse of a story that proved my “old” voice lends itself to the historicals that were my first love. I get a kick out of using words like addlepated, gewgaws, and smitten.

After I’d been writing for two years and had five completed manuscripts, I spent a year studying craft. Armed with my newfound knowledge, I took a look at my stories to see which of them showed the most promise. I loved them all, but Miles and Elenora told me theirs was the story I should pick, and I listened. I’d rewritten it once, but I knew it needed more work, so I got busy.

That rewrite proved my characters were right. Miles and Ellie’s story won several contests, earned me requests from some editors and agents, and led to my offer of representation from Rachelle Gardner. I love the story and the characters and hope readers do, too.

2. How many years have you been writing?

I’d dreamed of being a writer since I was seven, but it wasn’t until 40 years later that I dusted off that dream. In January 2006 I plopped myself down in front of my computer, full of ideas but knowing next to nothing about fiction writing. My degree is in mass communication/journalism, but creative writing is much different, as I soon learned.

3. Tell us a little about the events leading up to your first sale.

I’d love to tell you I accepted Rachelle’s offer of representation and that she sold my story right away, but I still had more to learn. Rachelle made her offer on the eve of Christmas Eve in 2009. Talk about an amazing Christmas present! I soared in the stratosphere for six glorious weeks.

And then reality returned. Rachelle called to prepare me for my first set of Revision Notes and the shocking news they contained. While she loved the beginning of the story, I’d let out the tension a quarter of the way into it. In order to fix the story, I needed to delete the final three-quarters and start over.

I spent six months rewriting the story and sent it to my critique partners, who told me the beginning and end were good but the middle was slow. Two more months of work netted me a new middle that no longer sagged. I sent the story to Rachelle and held my breath. To my surprise and delight, she said she liked it and was ready to submit it, which she did. Six weeks later we had two offers, and I got a contract for Christmas.

4. What is your biggest piece of advice to writers wanting to get published?

If I were to offer a new writer advice, I’d say three things.

• Have fun writing your first story. There will be time to learn the rules later. A realistic goal when you’re getting starting is to reach The End.
• Realize that it takes time to learn craft. Just as a doctor spends years before practicing medicine, writers need to learn how to craft a marketable story.
• Be willing to rewrite and revise. First drafts are called rough drafts for a reason. In many cases they aren’t pretty, but with work, we can transform them into beautiful stories readers will enjoy.

Encouraging advice! Keli mentioned she started writing in 2006, just as I did. And now we both have our debuts releasing within months of each other. Do you remember when you started writing for publication? How long has it been? How long do you think it will take to see your book published? And if you don't know, since Keli loves unique words, what kind of words do you like to play with?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You Can Be Published! Interview with Katie Ganshert

Today we have debut author Katie Ganshert. I met her a few years ago while we were both querying. She is awesome and dynamic and has a huge heart for God/love. Thanks for joining us today, Katie!
1.How many manuscripts have you written and did the one that sold feel different? I've written six. The one that sold was my third manuscript and it definitely felt different. It was the first manuscript I wrote after I read a whole bunch of craft books. I felt so much more knowledgeable about story telling and the craft of writing as I wrote that one.

2. How many years have you been writing?
Well, I've written stories ever since I could pick up a pencil. But somewhere in my teen years, I stopped. I didn't come back to it until I went to Nairobi, Kenya six and a half years ago. I came home with a story exploding inside me, so I wrote my very first novel.

3. Tell us a little about the events leading up to your first sale.
My manuscript was going to pub board. That's all I knew. My editor liked it. The editorial team at Waterbrook liked it. Now it was a matter of waiting to see if it would pass pub board or not pass. I didn't know I'd have to wait so long. Seven months after hearing it was going to pub board, I got an email from my agent saying it made it through, but it still had one more level of approval before a book deal would come. A week later, I got the phone call from my agent, only I couldn't answer because I was teaching a room full of 5th graders at the time. So I listened to her message (that this was the phone call I'd been waiting for) and tried really hard not to jump and scream and freak out my students. (For the record, it's important to know that Katie really would jump and scream. She's fun like that!)

4. What is your biggest piece of advice to writers wanting to get published?
Persevere! Rejections are inevitable. Waiting is inevitable. Persevere! See it as part of the process. If you're passionate about writing stories and you want to share those stories, then keep at it. Keep writing. Keep studying the craft. And keep believing God has a plan and a purpose for the words He's given you.

You can pre-order Katie's book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (or anywhere else, really).

Katie mentioned being in committee for a long time. Are you prepared for the waiting that comes with getting published? Where are you waiting right now? What do you do while waiting in life?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Interview With Naomi Rawlings, Debut Author

Today is the first day of the month of debuts! I'm excited to host debut authors, some of who I began blogging with years ago. The great thing is that no matter where you're at right now, it's important to know your path can change if you keep moving forward.

Not only is my first book out in April, but so isNaomi Rawlings's! She very kindly agreed to be my guest today.
1. How many manuscripts have you written and did the one that sold feel different? To date, I've written five complete manuscripts. And yes, the one that sold, Sanctuary for a Lady, felt completely different. I'd been working with a critique group, and the critiques improved my writing 110%. Plus I'd worked really hard on the plot, thinking up a twist that I hadn't seen done before and cementing it into my character's struggles in a riveting way. In the back of my mind, I had the feeling that if Sanctuary for a Lady didn't sell, I'd probably be done writing. Because I knew this novel was as good as anything else I'd be able to write.

2. How many years have you been writing? Three and a half as of today. Two and a half when my novel sold. I started writing in August of 2008.

3.Tell us a little about the events leading up to your first sale.
I'd had some signs that I was close to being published. I was finaling in contests and getting comments from published writers like "you'll get a contract soon." Plus I'd had a request for my full manuscript from the publisher I'd been targeting, Love Inspired Historical. I didn't want to drive myself crazy with wondering, so I told myself I wouldn't hear back from the publisher until the middle of July, if not longer. At the beginning of June, I went away on an anniversary trip with my husband. You can imagine my surprise when I returned home to find I'd missed a phone call from the editor who wanted to buy my novel!

4.What is your biggest piece of advice to writers wanting to get published?
Work hard and don't settle for anything less than your best. There are so many talented writers out there, and I think the thing that makes the biggest difference is not giving up or settling. It takes hard work to find that interesting twist in your story, hard work to write that setting in a new way, or come up with that original cowboy when so many cowboys already populate the shelves of bookstores. I finaled in the Genesis Contest for unpublished writers last year. There were over 70 entries in my category, and I was one of the top three. Do you know how many revisions I gave my opening? Probably 15. Maybe more. I worked and worked and worked until I had an opening scene that grabbed readers. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it.

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, Naomi!

Her debut, Sanctuary For A Lady, can be found on Amazon, Walmart, and anywhere else books are sold.

How many revisions has your opening had? What is your fave opening ever? Do you have any questions for Naomi?