I'm so excited to have fellow Ellora's Cave author, Kaily Hart, with me here today! Not only is she a good friend, she's an amazing author and I loved her debut release, Picture This. Trust me, you WANT to read this book! In honor of her novella's release, Kaily's going on a whirlwind blog tour and my blog is her first stop.
First off, I’d like to thank Cari, not just for having me here today, but for reaching out to me last year, for being the first person to ever comment on my blog, for critiquing Picture This, for being the first author I profiled on my own ‘Just Published’ blog segment and for her continual support and encouragement. Come to think of it, this is the first interview I’ve done about being a published author. Cari, you’ve been amazing, so thank you!
Kaily, you're welcome. And I'm honored to be the one to host your first "published" interview - and I fully admit I campaigned for this designation, though Kaily's too nice to say so - and to have been the first one to comment on your blog. As soon as I read your posts, I knew we'd get along well. I'm so excited about Picture This's release!
1) Your first book is about to be released. Does it feel the way you always thought it would? How are you combating release day jitters? (seriously, I need some tips! LOL)
I know, don’t remind me! I’m trying hard not to hyperventilate here. Seriously! June 29 has been approaching like a freight train since I found out the release date and I have no useful advice, I’m afraid. It helps to know (maybe a little LOL), that when the buy link finally opens I have no way to know how Picture This is selling, so being nervous or anxious or stressed, isn’t going to contribute anything. It will simply just be amazing to see it out there and available among the works of many wonderful authors with the possibility that someone might actually read it. Honestly, it still doesn’t seem real. Does it feel the way I thought it would? Yes and no. When I started writing, I pictured my first published book available in bookstores across the country. I envisioned walking in and seeing my book on a shelf, being able to pick it up and perhaps one day see someone reading it somewhere. My first book turned out to be an ebook and won’t get a print run, but it will be available online. WORLDWIDE!!! Guess that’s not a bad trade-off. I’m going to still want the bookstore scenario at some stage, but I’m happy with how things have turned out. I think it really set in that I was going to be a published author the first time I saw my cover. It was suddenly tangible and all I could think was “my name is actually on a book cover!!”. I’m not sure about other writers, but I visualize things very clearly (and I’d visualized this very thing), but the feeling I got from that first look was like being jolted with electricity. Maybe it’ll be the same for each book. I sort of hope so, but I’m not sure.
2) What was your inspiration for Picture This? It has such a fun, unusual premise.
It’s kind of a funny story because I wasn’t intending to write a novella at the time, nor was I at the point where I was going to submit to an epublisher. I had that planned for later in 2010. It just kind of all happened by accident LOL. I regularly check out the call for submissions on the major epub sites. I happened to see a call on the Ellora’s Cave site that asked for stories to do with the ‘fine arts’. My story premise just hit me in that instant and I got a visual of this large, very explicit but seductive painting of a beautiful, naked woman. I immediately started to think about who she could be. She became a woman who’d posed nude in her early twenties because she was desperate for money. I kept digging deeper and the character for Jillian was suddenly 3D! Sam was easy from there. A total alpha male, crude and rough around the edges who had become successful and overcome tremendous hardship, obsessed by a painting. It throws him off his axis and I always love that. For him, not being able to control something as basic as his reaction to anything, is just unacceptable. I played with it in my head for awhile and moved on. I really intended to leave it at that, but the story just wouldn’t let go. Or I should say the characters wouldn’t let it go. They demanded I tell their story. I guess it’s an occupational hazard. So, I relented. I wrote and polished it in seven days and discovered the allure of the novella in the process. I sent it in and… the rest is history.
3) There are lots of "shoulds" and "have tos" in this business. What one piece of advice would you advise an unpublished author NOT to follow?
Mmmm, interesting question. There’s a lot of information available to the aspiring author. I know, because I’ve immersed myself in it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, confused or just plain frustrated. I think as writers we have to follow our instincts and do what’s right for our stories and how we tell them (our voices). There is a mega amount of different (and sometimes conflicting) information out there about the craft of writing, submissions, promotion and marketing, publishers, agents, and everything and anything associated with writing and this industry. You have to be educated but I would say don’t take any advice unless it feels right to YOU. It has to resonate with you in some way. This is not a ‘one size fits all’ industry and I don’t think you can be greatly successful by being like everyone else. You have to find what’s unique about yourself and your writing and build on that. DON’T STAY IN YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
4) What keeps you at the keyboard when you're not sure if you should keep going?
That’s another good question. Honestly, I’ve never been at the point where I wondered if I should keep going (*knocks on wood*). When I started seriously writing about eighteen months ago, it was with a deep seated surety that it was what I was meant to do. I was confident I’d get published. One day. It was just a matter of how long it was going to take! Now, that’s not to say I haven’t faced rejection. I have! My very first query letter resulted in a very polite response that the story line had already been done and wasn’t very original. Huh. They didn’t even want to see a single word I’d written in that book. It was a bit of a blow, but it didn’t deter me at all. I looked at it as the ‘book I needed to write’. I learned an incredible amount with that book. It may never see the light of day, but it proved to me that I could actually write a full length novel and at the end of the process I’d found my writing ‘voice’, the style and tone that’s uniquely mine. So, it more than served it’s purpose. As to the motivation to write, I just have too many ideas, too many untold stories and too many interesting characters to ignore for long.
5) Do you have a "dream" genre or book of your heart you'd love to write?
Actually, I have many! Books I’d like to write, that is. This is one author who is never short on ideas. I keep an ‘idea file’. It currently has bits and pieces for over 35 books across a number of genres. I don’t think about love, sex and romance in the context of any one genre and I’ve read across all of them. I have a contemporary trilogy I’m currently writing targeted at Harlequin Blaze. They’re related books with a unique twist but are not dependent on each other. The first book is currently sitting on an editor’s desk (*fingers crossed*) under consideration! I’d really love to see this book published because I’m so totally in love with the hero, Callan. I love writing the tortured, ‘rough around the edges’ hero who’s never really cared for anyone, but by the end of the book will lay down his life for the heroine. Sigh… I have a total of five books outlined in the same vein as Picture This and I also have two small paranormal series outlined (four books each) that I would love to write. I started writing contemporary, but I read quite a bit in the paranormal/urban fantasy genre and I know I’ll write in this space at some stage.
6) What are you working on right now?
A lot!! Firstly, I had a lot to learn about promoting a book and I’m still learning. I probably won’t ever stop on that front! Over the last couple of months, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and weighing options and ended up selecting a few key things to do. I have a blog tour throughout the month of July and I’m participating in a few promotional activities some of the writing forums hold. At the end of the day, nothing will compensate if you don’t have a good story, well told. It’s important to market yourself and your work of course, but I think the best thing, particularly a new writer can do promotion wise, is to write the next book and have it be better than the last. I’ll also be attending the annual RWA conference in Orlando next month, so I’m starting to think about that. I’m really excited. It’s kind of like an extended girls weekend with a few hundred of your friends all interested in the same things! On the writing front, I’m currently working on two additional stories for Ellora’s Cave. One will be finished and off to my editor in July, the other in August. They’re along the same lines as Picture This with an intriguing premise, a confident but vulnerable heroine and of course, a hot alpha male who so has it coming to him. Hot and steamy sex doesn’t hurt either!
Thanks again for having me today, Cari. I admire you as an amazing author and for being such a supportive friend. Congratulations on your own publishing success. Harlequin Blaze will be ours this year, my friend!
Thanks so much for being here! Let's hope Blaze is one of the next stops on our journey!
Want to learn more about Kaily? Visit her website HERE or her blog HERE.
Better yet, do you want to buy Picture This? I know you do! Go HERE to pick up a copy.