How do I get published?

I receive this question a lot, from people who have written, or want to write books. When I began writing, I didn’t know anything about the publishing world and sometimes that makes taking the first steps easier. For me it included finding out what was being published, reading lots of books in a number of different genres – mysteries, romance, suspense, sci-fi, historicals and both fiction and non-fiction. I narrowed the scope of my writing down to two issues that were most important to me. The first involved relationships. All my fiction books deal with the relationship between men and women – what works, how does it work, why is it such a challenge.  After all, I feel the interaction between people, day in and day out, is what makes the world such a fascinating, ever-changing place. The second issue I wanted to explore more deeply was the core endurance required to keep on going, to keep reaching for impossible goals in the face of what seems are insurmountable obstacles. The portrayal of this goal, and achievement, is what separates commercial fiction from literary fiction [not literature] and why I choose to write commercial fiction. It’s important to discover for yourself, what drives the types of books you want to write before you go very far in this business.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I always have lots of advice – especially since they say an expert is someone who has made every mistake once. I’m well on my way to being an expert and have no problem sharing my hard-won lessons with others. First off, be aware that writing is both a craft and a business. You can be capable of writing the best book ever written, but no one will read it if you don’t understand the business of getting it published. Be aware that once your manuscript leaves your hands it becomes a product – not your soul, your child, your heart. Its merits are based solely on whether a particular editor or agent believes it will sell in the current marketplace. It does no good for a farmer to grow oats if only wheat is being sold. That said, be also aware that the market is constantly changing. You and you alone, must believe in your book before anyone else will. If you are like most published authors, you will face plenty of rejection before succeeding. This is all part of the process and the process has its ups and downs.

Are your characters like you?

I wish I could say the best parts are like me – especially when they are brilliant, funny and heroic. The truth is that every author pours a little of herself into every character and vice a versa – she learns a little from every character. There’s nothing quite so eye opening as having a character spout some bit of wisdom or insight that smacks you up the side of the head and has you saying – I didn’t know that!

How can I get my book signed?

Whenever a new book of mine is published I try to get out on the road to visit as many bookstores, libraries, writer’s groups and book clubs as possible. The rest of the year I conduct on-line workshops and make random appearances as time, and the writing of the next book(s) permits. You can always visit my website to get a complete listing of my upcoming events. If I am not appearing near your home anytime soon you can always email me and I will gladly send you a personalized Keeper Kase. (For more information, click here.)

How long does it take you to write a book?

It always takes twice as long as I planned, but I can usually write a 300 page book in several months, start to finish. For non-writers this may sound reasonable, but I know other writers will shake their heads in disbelief. My secret I believe is that when I first started writing I still had five children at home under the age of eight. Thinking time, much less writing time, was always at a premium, so my solution was to train myself to pre-write in my head – whole pages of dialogue, character development and action scenes. What this means is that by the time I ever sit down in front of the computer I am very familiar with the characters, the story line, the conflicts, then it becomes a matter of opening up and letting the characters tell their own story.

How do you write?

I write my entire book on the computer but I use two different computers for the process. The first is a laptop I can use sitting on the bed. Not very comfortable after a few hours, but it was the only place I could write relatively uninterrupted for years and it’s become a habit that works. Also, since this computer is not hooked up to the internet I’m never tempted to delay writing by reading e-mails, doing research or, when I really want to procrastinate, playing web games. The second computer is in my office, where I do my editing. To me that’s a left brain function and requires sitting up straight in a hard backed chair. Must be all the years of Catholic school coming back to haunt me!

What is your favorite part about writing?

Finding out what the characters are going to do next. Truly, Im often as surprised, or more so, at the situations they find themselves in. It’s like being a parent – sometimes you’re the last to know! Being a writer and being a published author are, in my mind, two different sides of the coin. I know many, many writers who never get their words down on paper because it always sounds better in their heads. Then, if they do technically write the book, can’t find the way to have it read, and judged, by total strangers. It’s enough to petrify most sane, private people. One author friend of mine always maintained it was easy. To be a writer all you have to do is sit down at the computer, and open your veins. My ultimate goal as a writer is to entertain people, to let them slip into another world, another reality, for a short period of time, and return refreshed and renewed. It’s a gift to me when I hear I’ve done this for readers. I also really enjoy going on the road and meeting people. People are fascinating, and I never stop learning from my readers.

How do you come up with your ideas?

I wish I knew. Mostly it’s a matter of letting go of the best intentions and plans and paying attention to the world around me. There are ideas everywhere – from regular life, TV, the movies. Then it becomes a matter of seeing a snippet of an event or conversation or even a gesture that raises a question in my mind – why did he do that, or what would happen if – and extrapolating it back and forward until it becomes as familiar as well-chewed gum. Some stories will pop full-grown into your mind from the smallest seed. Others require years of revisiting and nurturing to bring to bloom.

What are you writing next?

There’s always a book in the process of being written or plotted or discussed with my editor and agent. Currently I’m working on two projects simultaneously, which makes for a bit of a chaotic mind. I’ll remember where my character placed her gun, but not when my dentist appointment is next.  To keep up on my release schedule and find out when the next book(s) are being released please join my newsletter here. (Plus, get a bonus thank you gift, just for doing that!).