Today we get to hear from one of my favorite people, who is also one of my favorite authors! I’ve enjoyed watching Kris’s progress from being one of the great unpublished to her present position as an up-and-coming author — and after you read what she has to say about that progress, I’ll bet you’ll be thinking of her as a favorite person, too. Then read one of her books!
Me: Did you get a publisher first or an agent?
Kris: I wanted to first say a quick but heartfelt thanks to the lovely and wonderful Beppie and her gals for having me here today!
Let’s see . . . things happened in a slam-bam fashion, or at least that’s how it felt. After taking a pretty long hiatus from writing (or at least good, non-sleep-deprived writing), when my son was 3 years old, I decided to query a few agents. I also entered the Golden Heart with two historical manuscripts.
I got an agent in February, found out about the double final in the Golden Heart in March, and signed a 2 book contract in May, all of 2008. I admit, I was a little stunned.
But that doesn’t mean it was in any way an ‘overnight’ thing. Even discounting those almost-3 years break (when any writing I did didn’t count for squat, because it was unintelligible and terribly, deeply uninteresting) I was writing consistently, and prior to those three years, I entered contests regularly, for the feedback of non-friends. I came and went with a couple different critique partners, but every one gave me really valuable feedback. But here’s what I think mattered most: listening. I listened to what people said and often realized “Oh . . .! What I’m intending here in this scene isn’t what’s coming through.” And I made changes based on that.
And I wrote. Like, all the time. If I wasn’t working or with my husband or friends, I was pretty much writing. Admittedly, this was all pre-child, so there was a greater abundance of time (and other things, like brain cells, but I digress, which is a major sign of sleep deprivation . . . ). Nevertheless, my point is the apparent speed of events was an illusion. It was years up to that point. And I treated it like I was a journeyman. I am learning a craft, a discipline.
Me: What was it like in the initial stages of working with an editor?
Kris: My editor at Kensington is John Scognamiglio, and he’s fabulous. He’s very efficient and effective. We didn’t have long, gushing conversations or emails about the story or my writing, which was very good for my ego. (Wait, I mean ‘bad for my ego,’ meaning good for my character, as I had to admit he might, maybe, not think I am a freaking genius. Odd, but there you have it. So, I buckled down and set out to become one. <g>) He’d already read the first book when we talked, and we discussed options for the 2nd book. Over the next two months, I wrote & sent him outlines for 2 different stories.
He picked one, but then, when THE IRISH WARRIOR (at the time, it was titles Wanting Finian) won the Golden Heart, he suggested we go with that for the 2nd book instead. I agreed, spent the next TEN MONTHS working on a supposedly finished manuscript, and lo, come June, there it will be, on the shelves! :-)
I loved working with John. I admit, I don’t know what other editor relationships can be like, as this was my first, but I suspect I lucked out. He’s the editor-in-chief, and incredibly busy, but he was also clear, direct, and incredibly responsive (as in, minutes after I sent an email he’d reply). When I asked for something, he tried to be helpful wherever he could. There’s a reason he’s been around as long as he has, and it’s because he’s terrific.
My new editor at Pocket is Abby Zidle, and we’ve had only one phone conversation thus far, but I loved it. :-) I think it’s going to be a terrific relationship, and I appreciate my wonderful agent for making it happen. :-)
Me: What’s it like, coming up to your first book release when you are already working on the second?
Kris: Wow, that is one of the hardest things. Once you have one book out, you’re majorly multi-tasking. And I was on a very easy deadline schedule, those first time, as my second book wasn’t due essentially for 12 months. Now, I have 2 books to turn in within 11 months. With a child in 1/2 day Kindergarten.
I’m writing Book C (for Pocket), doing copy-edits &/or galley proofs for Book B (IRISH WARRIOR, comes out in June), and still occasionally doing promo that relates to Book A (THE CONQUEROR, May ‘09). Oh, and cooking and keeping the house clean (hahahahahahaha :rolls on floor laughing:)
Me: Why did you decide to change?
Kris: Kensington ’passed’ on my option book proposal. My agent sent it to Abby and she made a pre-empt offer on it a week after she read it. My editor at Kensy passed on his congratulations, and of course, we still have an author-editor relationship together for IRISH.
Me: What are the up sides and down sides to changing publishers?
Kris: New opportunities, new experiences, new learning. I have never worked with another editor or publisher, so it’ll be a valuable experience. I am really excited to get to know Abby, and have her help me create some amazing books for readers.
Me: What is your relationship with your agent like?
Kris: Gorgeous. Wonderful. I love her.
I admit, I am a dunce with the market, and contracts, etc. (Thus, why I have an agent) She is not necessarily the ‘let-me-educate-you-on-every-step-and-its-ramifications-as-we-go’ kinda agent. But I trust her, and I can ask anything any time I want (and I have, on everything from eRoyalties to what the letters on my first statement mean), and she will give me patient, clear, direct, honest answers. Of course, sometimes it’s like Math in 3rd grade: you’re so confused / ignorant to begin with, you don’t even know what question to ask. But she is always there for me. Usually, literally, within minutes.
In short, my agent is THE BEST.
Me: What are the biggest differences in your daily life now that you’re a published author? How much does the difference between being unpublished and published impact your regular routines?
Kris: Needing time. Always, always needing more time. Therefore I have to get better at focusing, because I really don’t like being only half present when I’m with my family, because I’m mentally still trying to get more writing done. This is something I absolutely must become more skillful at.
Thanks so much for having me here! I would love to answer any questions about the writing gig, experiences I haven’t covered, and the like. Feel free to ask away!!
Okay, Kris, you asked for it!