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 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 and 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?


Loree Huebner said…
Your book sounds good. I got to know a little bit about it on Sandra's blog the other day. I'll put it on my personal TBR list.

I believe in writing from the heart. I was told by several people that I write from the heart...they could read it in my words.
Jessica Nelson said…
Loree, that's such a great compliment for you. Store it for a rainy day. :-)
Katy Lee said…
That is a great compliment. I've heard many say they write for the market, what's selling at the current moment, but a reader can tell if the author's heart was in it no matter what.

I hope you enjoy RV!
Katy Lee said…
That is a great compliment. I've heard many say they write for the market, what's selling at the current moment, but a reader can tell if the author's heart was in it no matter what.

I hope you enjoy RV!
Lindsay Harrel said…
Hi Katy! Nice to meet you. :)

Not sure I'm breaking the mold quite yet. Still learning and growing.
Unknown said…
Giggled at this: “Sweetheart, I love your magenta silk wrap blouse.”

If I heard a man say that, I might ask him to marry me.

Loved getting to know you Katy! Thanks for hosting her, Jessica!
Stacy Henrie said…
Sounds like an intriguing story! Love your advice about writing feelings first and then adding in the details that are relevant.
Jessica Nelson said…
Funny Melissa! My hubs doesn't even know that m word. lol

Hey Stacy! I like that advice too. It makes sense.
Linda Kage said…
Congrats on your new release, Katy!! Sounds like quite an adventure to get here. I like your writing advice. It's nice to meet you.
Julie Dao said…
LOVE this: "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." Putting our characters first is the key to getting the story moving! Great interview, thank you both!
Sarah Forgrave said…
"Don’t just research details and setting, research your characters as well." - I loved this quote. Something I'm still learning. :)
Jessica Nelson said…
lol Sarah, I know I still feel like I'm learning stuff too.

Hi Julie,
Glad you found that quote in there! I'm trying to figure out why all the words are mushed together. lol

Thanks for commenting, Linda. :-)
Katy Lee said…
Hello, everyone! Sorry I had to step away for a little while. I homeschool, but I also teach a US History class to homeschoolers at the library on Wednesdays. But I'm excited to respond to each of you, so:

Lindsay keep at it. Find your voice. I will read books by great authors and say to myself that I don't write like them. I can really begin to doubt myself and my writing if I don't catch it in time. The fact is I shouldn't write like them. I should write like me.

Melissa, if you find a guy that says that, let me know! I would want to study him for my next novel. He would be a species all his own.

Stacy, thank you for your comment. Feelings in a book shouldn't just be told, they should come across in the dialogue and mannerisms as well. That way the reader feels as though this is happening to them.

Linda, it's nice to meet you, too. And thank you for your well wishes.

Julie, glad you liked that. It is so true. Before I would tell the characters what they were going to do and say. Now I let them tell me...and sometimes it's not what I would have done. There is a scene in RV where Jeremy does something that I don't like, but changing it would change him.

Sarah, keep learning! I am, too! There is always something new to learn.
Hi Jess & Katy -

I'm having Blogger woes as well, Jess.

Katy, your blurb hooked me! I'm putting this on my Wish List. :)

Katy Lee said…
Enjoy Mel and Jeremy's story, Susan. Thank you. I really appreciate it! And thanks for your encouraging words, too.
Katy Lee said…

I want to thank you so much for having me! You're a great hostess, and I've enjoyed meeting some of your followers.

Katy Lee
Karen Lange said…
Thanks for the intro to Katy! Her book sounds interesting. :)
Robyn Campbell said…
Feelings. Characters first. You're awesome Jen! I needed this post. You have no idea how timely it is for you to remind me to put my characters first. Thank you, thank you!
Katy Lee said…
Thank you, Karen for saying so!

Robyn, think of it this way...I have a place for my favorite books that I like to reread. I've read them so many times, you would think I am bored with them. I know how the story goes. I know how it will end. So why do I return to them over and over? It's the characters I am returning for, like visiting an old friend.
Caryn Caldwell said…
Great interview! I loved it - especially the question AND answer about if the manuscript that sold felt any different from the previous ones. Thanks for sharing this!
Patti said…
Great interview and I loved how she said that she wrote the feelings first.

I mentioned your book on my blog today. Sorry it took so long.
Nancy said…
It's good to focus on the characters rather than the setting. That was probably her breakthrough moment. I have a passion for great characters.

I do appreciate a good setting, though.
Katy Lee said…
Caryn- Glad you liked my answer! :)

Patti- thanks for Sharing about Real Virtue. I REALLY appreciate that!

Nancy - Characters are the driving force of my novels, but a good interesting setting can also be a character.

Thanks for commenting!
Sometimes our "books of the heart" are the hardest sells to publishers (I have a book like that--Jessie, you know of which one I speak--heh). But I also believe those are the stories that are the most indelible and rewarding to the readers. Too bad publishers can't always see that! So glad you didn't have that problem w/your "book of the heart"!
Nancy said…
Kathy Lee - I agree about the setting being a character. I believe the main character of the novel "Rebecca" was the estate. It touched everything in the book.
Katy Lee said…
That is sooo true, Anita! And as a reader, I can always tell if the author's heart was really in it. It makes reading the story a total pleasure.

I am blessed to have a publisher who read Real Virtue and fell in love with it immediately.

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