LWTL recently caught up with author Kelly Bowen. Kelly’s background is in veterinary physiology, and she spent many years working as a research scientist in the agriculture industry. When we last sat down with Kelly, she had taken a break to pen her first book- which she wrote about in her LWTL blog post In The Absence of Can’t. Now Kelly has signed another book deal for a second trilogy of historical romance novels.
LWTL: A big congratulations on your new book deal! You went from aspiring author, to seasoned veteran. Is it easier the second time around?
KB: Thanks for having me back! So happy to be here!
I’m not sure a second trilogy classifies me as a seasoned veteran, though I am certainly more educated on how the publishing industry works now than I was when I sold my first series. I was able to travel to New York this past summer and meet the people I work with – my agent, editor, copy editors, cover artists, and publicists. Having a face to put to a name now is a definite plus, so on that front, the process is perhaps not easier, but definitely more familiar. As for the craft of writing itself, I’d like to think that I continue to learn from all the stories that have come before (though you’d have to ask my editor and copy editor how I’m doing on that score!). When it comes to the stories, some days I can’t type the words fast enough, and other days I’ll spend eight hours writing a measly thousand words. And then there are other days where you delete four entire chapters because you’re just not happy with where they’re going.
Writing, like any other job, doesn’t necessarily get easier, but I’d like to think I’m getting a little bit better at managing all the aspects of it each time!
LWTL: How have things changed for you since you wrote the first three books?
KB: Everything is definitely busier now! For a newly published author of genre fiction who is trying to build a readership, the ideal schedule for author/publisher is to release 2 to 3 new books a year. Which means I am contracted to deliver a new book every five months. When I sold my first series, I had already written book 1 and half of book 2, so I had plenty of time to finish that series. With the sale of my new series, I no longer had that luxury, so time management became quite important, and I would say that is a constant work in progress.
I’ve also been very fortunate to build some relationships with other authors. Writing is a very solitary endeavor, so it’s fantastic when you can reach out and ask advice or just touch base with colleagues, though they might be on a different continent. The romance writer’s industry is an amazing machine. I’m sure there are exceptions out there somewhere, but so far, I have only encountered support and encouragement from other authors. We help each other out whenever possible, whether it is promotion or another avenue.
LWTL: After completing your masters in veterinary physiology your motto was “Find a way”. Have you adopted any new phrases that have helped you to push through and sign a second book deal?
KB: I think that this is more true than ever! You definitely have to able to think outside the box, as well as be willing to be flexible. So if I had to come up with another phrase that has become a mantra, I would say it might be “Roll with it.” While each author is expected to do a great deal of promotion on their own, the publisher takes on the initial responsibility of marketing each book. The publisher comes up with a title for each story, a cover look, as well as altering content that might help make your book more appealing to readers. For example, in two of my novels that I’d already completed, my heros got promoted from the title of earl to duke (the contemporary equivalent of being promoted from boss to billionaire). My publisher asked for this because marketing stats show that historical romances sell better if the main character is a duke (just ask E.L.James how well her billionaire worked out). And since I am in the business of selling books, I willingly went back to the computer and reworked each story.
LWTL: How difficult is it to work at home, and be a full time mom of two busy boys?
KB: I try to treat this this as a regular job with (sort-of) regular hours. It could definitely be easy to procrastinate, so it takes some willpower, especially on the days when your characters and your story are not cooperating. My boys are in school now, so I try to take full advantage of that time. Once they come home, we’re off to the pool or the rink or the music studio or the soccer pitch. Though if I’m close to a deadline, my laptop often comes with me.
LWTL: When you hit the metaphorical writers wall, how do you get over that hump?
KB: Typically, when a scene or a part of a story is giving me all sorts of grief, I’ll go on to write something else, for example, a scene that happens later. My books are never written in order, starting at page 1 and ending at ‘The End.’ I find quite often once I get going on another part, something will trigger the solution to the bit that I’m struggling with. My contracts certainly don’t allow me time to walk away from it for weeks while waiting for inspiration – I think Stephen King said it best when he said ‘Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.’
LWTL: If you could give any advice to an aspiring author what would you tell them?
KB: Write. Just write. You can’t fix anything or improve anything or publish anything if it hasn’t been written.
And then, when you’re ready to throw your hat in the ring, grow a really thick skin. Part of the publishing/writing package are the people who read your work. While most are constructive and positive, not everyone is going to like what you write – it is impossible to please everyone all the time – we all know that. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the web allows some to be just plain nasty and horrible and outright mean.
And the best way to deal with those individuals is to write them into your next story. And then kill them off in Chapter 14.
LWTL: One last, last question! I’m sure our readership is inspired by your journey, would and would love to read your work. Where can they buy your books?
KB: In Canada, my books are available at all major retailers, including Amazon.ca, Chapter/Indigo, McNally Robinson, and if your favorite indie bookstore doesn’t have them in stock, they can certainly order them in! I have buy links on my website: http://www.kellybowen.net