Now that I’m writing full time, I finally had the chance to travel to Portland and attend the Golden Crown Literary Society conference. It was an awesome experience that I definitely intend to repeat next year. It’s hard to describe how it feels to be among nearly 300 lesbians who are just as dedicated to lesbian fiction as I am. I had the chance to meet so many readers and fellow authors, including some of the writers whose work I admired for the last fifteen years.
Tonight, on the last full day of the conference, the “Goldie” awards were presented. Here’s a list of this year’s winners, and I’m very honored to be among them!
Best Lesbian Romance by Radclyffe (ed.)
Beyond the Trail by Jae
Three by Ann McMan
Exception to the Rule by Cindy Rizzo
In Between by Jane Hoppen
Laughing Down the Moon by Eva Indigo
In This Small Spot by Caren Werlinger
Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran
Picking Up the Pieces by Brenda Adcock
At Her Feet by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Switching Gears by Rhavensfyre
Wild Girls, Wild Nights by Sacchi Green (ed.)
Passion for Vengeance by Patty G. Henderson
Reflected Passion by Erica Lawson
Silver Wings by H.P. Munro
Point of Betrayal by Ann Roberts
Turning on the Tide by Jenna Rae
Yellow Vengeance by Liz Bugg
The Awakening by Yvonne Heidt
The Horde by Linda K. Silva
The Lone Hunt by L.L. Raand
Chopper! Chopper! by Veronica Reyes
Roses Read by Beth Mitchum (ed.)
The Finley Human Experience by Monique Finley
Code of Honor by Radclyffe
Mountain Rescue: The Ascent by Sky Croft
The Gemini Deception by Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou
Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau
Saving Morgan by MB Panichi
Shell Game by Benny Lawrence
Traditional Contemporary Romance:
Every Second Counts by D. Jackson Leigh
Homestead by Radclyffe
I Remember by Julie Cannon
Orphan Maker by D. Jordan Redhawk
Secret City by Julia Watts
Secret Lies by Amy Dunne
Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award (Tie):
All That Lies Within by Lynn Ames
Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran
Lee Lynch Classic Award:
Nancy Garden for Annie On My Mind
Congratulations to all the winners and also to the finalists!
To all of you who couldn’t be there—you are missing out, so try to make it next year, when the con will be in New Orleans!
This is not one of my “War and Peace” length novels, but at 52,000 words, it’s fairly long for a novella and could be called a short novel. It’s set in Hollywood and first started out as a short story, which was published under the title “The Morning after.”
But my muse and my readers demanded that the main characters get more attention, so I set out to write another short story about them…and ended up with a novella.
Here’s a description:
Aspiring actress Amanda Clark and photographer Michelle Osinski are two women burned by love and not looking to test the fire again. And even if they were, it certainly wouldn’t be with each other.
Amanda has never been attracted to a butch woman before, and Michelle personifies the term butch. Having just landed a role on a hot new TV show, she’s determined to focus on her career and doesn’t need any complications in her life.
After a turbulent breakup with her starlet ex, Michelle swore she would never get involved with an actress again. Another high-maintenance woman is the last thing she wants, and her first encounter with Amanda certainly makes her appear the type.
But after a date that is not a date and some meddling from Amanda’s grandmother, they both begin to wonder if it’s not time for a departure from their usual dating scripts.
For all of you who still prefer paperbacks:
The paperback will be sold at the GCLS conference and should be available online after that (so mid-July, probably).
I hope you enjoy my newest work!
Have a great week,
I was invited by Michele M. Reynolds to participate in the Meet my Main Characters Blog Tour. Michele’s newest novel, Love’s Autograph, recently climbed the Amazon bestseller list in the category lesbian romance. Check out her website here and the interview with her main characters here.
So let’s see what I can tell you about the main characters in my work-in-progress, Under a Falling Star.
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Dee Saunders and Austen Brooks, the two main characters of Under a Falling Star, are both entirely fictional. Austen was named after author Jane Austen by her mother, though.
2) When and where is the story set?
The story is a contemporary romance. It takes place in present-day Portland, Oregon. Some of the scenes include a hike to Punchbowl Falls, a stroll through the Peninsula Park Rose Garden, and taking in a game of the Portland Trail Blazers.
3) What should we know about him/her?
Dee is the Chief Operations Officer of an international game company. She’s a workaholic and a control freak. That’s why she rearranges the lights on the Christmas tree in the company’s lobby—and the star-shaped tree topper crashed down on her.
Austen just started to work for the company and is determined to impress her boss when he assigns her the Christmas tree decorations. She’s not about to take any crap from the stranger interfering with that task.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
At first, Austen doesn’t know who Dee really is. When she finds out, she already feels a connection to Dee, and she’s not happy about being lied to. Even if she would forgive Dee, there’s no chance of a relationship between them, because Dee is practically Austen’s boss and if anyone found out that they are involved, one or both of them would lose her job.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Austen just wants to settle in to her new job as an administrative assistant in a games company. After the less-than-pleasant end of her last relationship, she’s not looking for love.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
The story is titled Under a Falling Star, named after the incident when they first meet.
You can read an excerpt from that first meeting here.
7) When can we expect the book to be published?
Under a Falling Star will be published in October 2014 by Ylva Publishing. If you subscribe to my blog or website or like my Facebook Fan Page, you won’t miss any news about my upcoming releases.
I’ve tagged three talented authors who will discuss characters from their books:
Check out their blog posts next Monday, June 30th.
Have a great week and many greetings from California,
I was invited to participate in the #MyWritingProcess blog tour by fellow writer and editor R.G. Emanuelle.
Every author answers the same four questions about her or his writing process and then tags someone else to continue the blog tour.
So here are my answers:
#1 What am I working on?
I used to work on only one thing at the time, but it seems those times are long past.
I just finished the edits of food romance short story “Whining and Dining” today. It will be published in the anthology All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica, edited by R.G. Emanuelle and Andi Marquette.
My short story “Christmas Road Trip” is with my beta readers right now. This one is a bit unusual for me, which is why I wanted a bit more feedback from test readers before I send it off to the editor.
Mainly, though, I’m working on Under a Falling Star, a novella that was meant to be a short story. The main characters were just too fascinating to wrap up the story in 10,000 words. We meet Austen on her very first day as a secretary of a game/toy company. Her first assignment, decorating the Christmas tree in the lobby, results in a trip to the ER when Dee, the company’s second-in-command and a total control freak, tries to rearrange the lights and gets hit by the star-shaped tree topper.
Needless to say that it’s not the head wound that makes Dee swoon over Austen. The problem is just that Austen has no idea who Dee really is…and she won’t be amused when she finds out.
#2 How does my work differ from others in the same genre?
I see a lot of lesbian romances that has their characters fall in love at first sight and jump into bed on page 10. My novels aren’t like that. Since I tend to write longer novels (or short stories that turn into novellas), I have more room for character and relationship development. I can show readers what makes the characters tick—their flaws, their strengths, and the conflicts they have to overcome to find happiness with each other. I’ve heard from a lot of readers who said they really appreciate the chance to get to know the characters that way.
#3 Why do I write what I do?
I guess I write romances because I’m a romantic at heart and because it gives me a chance to focus on a character-driven story that has interesting main characters who are strong yet flawed. I want to write about characters that I and my readers can identify with—not invincible superheroes who save the world on a daily basis, but story people who struggle with their jobs, their families, their fears, or their pasts. I want to create plots that force them to face and overcome their problems, so that, once we reach the last page, they really deserve their happy end.
#4 How does my writing process work?
It depends on the story, but most often, everything starts with the characters. I first work on the main characters and sketch out their background and their personality and figure out what their goals and the conflicts they have to overcome are. Ideally, their goals put them into conflict with each other.
Let’s take Backwards to Oregon, for example: Luke’s goal is to live her life as a man without being discovered. Nora’s goal is to secure a good life for herself and her daughter, so she tries to seduce her new husband, Luke—which would lead to her discovering who Luke really is.
You can easily see how the characters determine the main plot.
I’m a plotter, but the details aren’t set in stone, so the plot can take unexpected turns once I get to know my characters better.
Research also gives me a lot of ideas for scenes that help drive the plot forward. I do a lot of research, maybe even too much. It can become a form of procrastination too.
Now that I write full time, I try to write every day. My daily word count goal is 2,000 words. Sometimes, that takes me three hours; sometimes it takes seven. But even on the days when every word is like pulling teeth, I still think I have the best job in the world!
Next, I’m tagging Barbara Winkes, author of The Interpretation of Love and the Truth, Secrets, Autumn Leaves, and Winter Storm.
I hope you enjoy their blog posts too.
I finished the edits for my novella Departure from the Script, which will be published in about a month, and worked on its German version, Liebe à la Hollywood (sadly, the title, as is so often the case, doesn’t translate well).
I wrote a new shape-shifter short story titled Pigeon Post. At about 13,000 words, it’s a nice, long one, almost heading into novella territory.
Then I got started on the short story for the Ylva Publishing’s Christmas anthology. The title is Under a Falling Star. The writing went really well…a bit too well, maybe, because it’s now a 33,000-word novella, with the end nowhere near in sight!
So I then had to set out to write yet another short story for the anthology, praying that one would not turn into a novella as well. To my relief, Christmas Road Trip fit nicely into the short story format. Phew!
So with that said, let’s take a look at the numbers for May:
|2014 - TOTAL||384 hours||250 hours||159 hours||37 hours|
|January||75 hours||60 hours||1 hour||--|
|February||48 hours||70 hours||35 hour||--|
|March||50 hours||41 hours||47 hour||--|
|April||109 hours||31 hours||48 hour||--|
|May||102 hours||48 hours||28 hour||37|
If I count the 39 hours of marketing and answering reader e-mails, I spent about 254 hours on writing-related activities.
In just a few days, on June 11 to be exact, I leave for my five-week-long trip to the US, visiting friends, doing research, and attending the GCLS conference. If anyone has any sightseeing advice for the L.A. area, San Francisco, or Portland, Oregon, please let me know.
I have no idea how much time I’ll have to write, but my goal is to wrap up my newest novella, Under a Falling Star, and get started on the vampire novella that I’m co-authoring with fellow Ylva author Alison Grey. I also want to blog about my adventures in the US, so check back often!
Have a great week, everyone!
Those of you who follow my blog know that I regularly invite other writers to talk about their writing and their books on my blog.
Today, I’m honored to welcome Fletcher DeLancey. Fletcher is not only the author of Without a Front, one of my all-time favorite lesbian novels, but she is also a fellow Ylva author and does some editing for Ylva Publishing on the side.
Fletcher lives in southern Portugal with her lovely wife and two feline bosses. She regularly blogs about nerdy science and tech stuff and about life as an Oregon Expat.
So let’s see what she had to say and start with some warm-up questions:
Chocolate or cookies?
If I have to choose, chocolate. If I can bend the rules, both at the same time. This is why chocolate-chip cookies were invented.
E-books or paperbacks?
Having shipped eight moving boxes of books when I moved from Oregon to Portugal, I can definitely say I’d rather have shipped an equivalent number of e-books. However, many of those were reference books, which I still prefer in physical form. So if the question were “e-books or hardbacks,” I’d say hardbacks. For fiction? E-books.
Star Wars or Star Trek? (Okay, this one is probably a no-brainer in your case)
Total no-brainer, yes. Even beside the fact that I’ve written five novels in the ST: Voyager universe, anyone who values the presence of strong women in a franchise can only answer Star Trek. The original Star Wars universe was full of men, men, more men, and Princess Leia. The “Prologue” universe managed to add even more men and…Princess Leia’s mother. Way to reach for gender parity!
Star Trek, on the other hand, famously altered its opening monologue from “where no man has gone before” to “where no one has gone before,” and that was before it launched a seven-year series where women comprised 43 percent of the senior staff, including the captain and chief engineer.
Beach or mountains?
I’ve lived at or near the beach for my entire adult life, which is probably why my answer is “mountains.”
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m a news junkie and a geek who loves to learn about what’s going on in the science and tech worlds. On the other hand, I’m happiest when tuned in to the natural world around me, so I spend a lot of time trying to learn the birds, plants and rhythms of the Algarvean ecosystem (which is a damn slow process). I’m also a gardener, photographer, cyclist, Pilates instructor, and cat lover.
Please tell us about your journey in becoming a published writer. How did you come to publish with Ylva Publishing?
My journey was a very short one. Astrid e-mailed me and said, “If you ever want to publish…” I’d considered it before, but had heard too many negative stories on the lesfic forums about internal politics and bad practices, and just wasn’t interested in any of that. But after Astrid’s email I checked out her stable of authors and spoke a bit more with her about her philosophy. What I learned impressed me. I like what she (and now you) are doing, and am happy to be a part of that.
<thinking> Okay, I said it was a short journey, but in reality I’d already written and posted six full-length novels, two novellas, and a bunch of short stories online, over a period of ten years, on a web site I built just for my writing. Astrid would never have written me if my work hadn’t been out there for so long, gathering readers and reputation by word of mouth. So perhaps “short” isn’t really accurate.
It was my wife’s idea. I’ve often written short stories as gifts for her birthday, and that year she gave me a challenge: to write about two women who meet in a coffee shop, with one using a Mac and the other a PC. I took that premise and ran with it.
I’m still wondering why “Mac” is named first in the title of your story Mac vs. PC. I’m pretty sure I know why, but do you care to explain why the title isn’t PC vs. Mac?
Well, I’ve always loved PCs and would marry one if I could…just kidding. I switched to Macs after 18 years on PCs, and the concept that I could actually enjoy working on my computer was a revelation. Eleven years and three laptops later and I’m still enjoying the heck out of ‘em. So yeah, Mac goes first in the title. (<whispering> Even though I still use a 15-year-old Microsoft mouse and my new Skype headphones are Microsoft, too.)
I probably mentioned once or twice (or a few dozen times) that I’m a big, big fan of your novel Without a Front. Salomen is one of my all-time favorite characters in fiction. Is she based on anyone you know, or how did you come up with the idea for that character?
She is? That’s a high compliment, thank you! And no, she’s not based on anyone I know. She came into being because I needed a partner that Andira Tal would never anticipate: a woman who was not in the “right” caste, who wasn’t even slightly impressed by her title, who met her toe to toe and drove her nuts…but who had a rich backstory and a whole other life hidden beneath the surface. I wanted to explore the concept of power exemplified by a woman who didn’t captain a ship, or lead a world, but instead ran a farm. And in the process of inventing Salomen’s family and backstory, she turned into probably the most “real” character I’ve ever written.
Speaking of Without a Front, will there ever be a sequel to that story?
Yes. It’s already percolating in my brain. In fact, I recently described a scene from it to my wife and her eyes got THAT big.
But right now I’m focusing on the prequel.
Most readers probably know you for your excellent Star Trek: Voyager fan fiction. If you had been the writer in charge of that TV show, how would Star Trek: Voyager be different?
It would have a story arc. Not just the “lost for seven years, trying to get home” arc, but a real, complex arc with clues and developments scattered around that paid off months or years later. Deep Space Nine did that to some degree, but Babylon 5 did it even better, because its creator had planned the whole five-year arc before writing Episode 1. The characters all grew and changed over those five years, rather than staying static—or even worse, temporarily exhibiting behaviors that furthered an episode’s thin plot but didn’t make sense for the character.
Voyager had a few mini-arcs, but for the most part it subscribed to the “whatever works for this episode” philosophy, which resulted in a bunch of unbelievable resets, some very sloppy characterizations, and relationships that did not work at all. I remain convinced that Kate Mulgrew’s incredible acting chops (as well as those of Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo) saved the show from its writers, but imagine what she could have done with better material!
And of course, my arc would have included Janeway’s personal metamorphosis, because how could she not undergo a profound alteration of character during seven years of being fundamentally alone and ultimately responsible? The show barely touched on this, yet to my mind it should have underpinned the entire series.
What would you say are the main themes in your stories? What personal meaning do those themes have for you?
It’s funny, because I didn’t set out to do it, but looking back on my writing it’s obvious that all of my novels and both of my novellas are in part about power: who wields it, how did they get it, what do they do with it, how does it change them, how does it change how others view them, etc. My other two main themes are the importance of family, and personal growth.
Power fascinates me because in my experience, the people who know what to do with it are quite rare. When I think back on the various supervisors I’ve had, only one man and one woman were good at their management jobs. The others ranged from mediocre to incompetent and worse. The huge popularity of the comic strip “Dilbert” says my experience isn’t unusual. So do history and politics. Why are most humans so bad at wielding power? I don’t know, but to me, it makes the concept of a character who does know what to do with it irresistible.
Family is important to me because other than my parents, I never had much of it until I began creating my own. So I find the intersection between the family we’re born with, and the one we build ourselves, to be a fascinating point of exploration.
Personal growth is, of course, one of the best drivers of any narrative. If a character isn’t growing in some way, then there’d better be a really awesome plot driver somewhere else.
How do you find enough time to write? Any tips on how to be productive as a writer?
Back when I still identified as straight (and married), I made enough time to write by starting after dinner and working until one or two in the morning. I lived in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation, which I can’t recommend, but it was the only time my brain was free enough for me to imagine this whole other life. Nowadays I’m much more fortunate, and write at all hours of the day. Ironically, I’m not as productive as I used to be because I love my life, so I’m not burying myself in writing as an escape from it. Thus I may not be qualified to give any tips!
That said, here are two:
1) Make yourself some quiet time, even if it means closing a door and turning on some soft music so you can’t hear activity in the rest of the house. Isolate yourself with your brain and your story.
2) Get out and exercise alone. My favorites are walking and cycling, but you could get on a rowing machine if that’s what you enjoy. Just put yourself in a place where your body is active and your brain is floating around, not engaging with the world or other people. My best story ideas and plot resolutions have come when I was exercising.
You also work as an editor. What advice would you give authors preparing their manuscript for submission to a publisher or an editor?
You mean besides formatting it properly? Probably the best advice I ever heard regarding a finished manuscript is to set it aside. Don’t look at it for at least six weeks. A few months would be better—long enough so that you no longer remember every word of it. Then open it up again and read it with fresh eyes. Look for descriptions or expositions that don’t further the plot, excessive dialogue tags and name usage, etc. and delete them with a ruthless hand. Things that our eyes just blip past while we’re writing and editing can jump out at us when we’ve taken a long enough break. Removing them makes a manuscript more likely to stand out and be accepted.
An apocryphal story about Michelangelo holds that when asked how he sculpted his statue of David from a block of marble, he said, “It’s simple. I just cut away the parts that don’t look like David.” Writing is a very similar process. First, we build up that block of marble. Then we tackle the much harder part: cutting away all the extraneous bits.
If you could co-author a book with any writer, dead or alive, who would that author be and why?
Dead: Jane Austen, just so I could watch her write dialogue and marvel at it.
Alive: Jasper Fforde, so I could benefit from his prodigious imagination (not to mention his apparently effortless command of the collected works of all English literature).
What projects are you working on right now? Any upcoming releases?
Right now I’m working on The Caphenon, which is the prequel to Without A Front. I thought it might be twenty or thirty pages, but it’s already over 80,000 words and still going. I’m very excited about it, because in order to write it I built an entirely new universe for the Alseans to live in, and it’s a complicated one. In other words: Lots of scope for new novels!
Fletcher, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Please keep us posted on how things are progressing with The Caphenon.
Readers, if you are interested in hearing more about Fletcher and her latest story, listen to episode 88 of The Cocktail Hour.
Have a great Sunday, everyone.
It’s hard to believe that it’s May already–which means just one more month until I’m traveling to the US to do some research, meet friends I haven’t met in person yet, and go to the GCLS conference in Portland!
April has been a pretty great month for me. Conflict of Interest has been published and is selling well. And now that I’m through with moving and furniture assembly, I thankfully have more time to write.
I added 25,000 words to my new novella, Departure from the Script, which by now has grown into an (albeit short) novel. Departure from the Script is with the editor now and will be published in July.
I also translated the novella into German. I still find it amazingly hard to write sex/love scenes in German.
Okay, let’s take a look at the numbers for April:
|2014 - TOTAL||282 hours||202 hours||131 hours||0 hours|
|January||75 hours||60 hours||1 hour||--|
|February||48 hours||70 hours||35 hour||--|
|March||50 hours||41 hours||47 hour||--|
|April||109 hours||31 hours||48 hour||--|
If I add about 40 hours of marketing,I spent about 228 hours on writing-related activities.
This month, I will be working on a shape-shifter short story and will get started on a vampire novella that I’m co-authoring with fellow Ylva author Alison Grey. It’s the first time I co-write a story. Check back next month for news on how it’s going.
Have a great week!
To celebrate Earth Day, AllRomance is offering a 50 % rebate on all eligible e-books today (April 22).
All of Ylva Publishing’s books are eligible for the rebate, including:
My shape-shifter series:
The Oregon Series:
Something in the Wine:
Conflict of Interest:
How it works: You pay full price, but you get half back in All Romance’s e-bucks that you can use to buy other e-books from the store.
Happy Earth Day and happy reading!
Today, I’m honored to welcome Kate McLachlan, author of time-travel romances such as her latest release Return of an Impetuous Pilot and of historical mysteries such as Murder and the Hurdy Gurdy Girl.
Let’s start with some warm-up questions:
Chocolate or cookies?
This is supposed to be an easy question? Really? How am I supposed to answer that? I guess the obvious answer is chocolate cookies, but it’s not that simple. I really prefer my chocolate in candy, and it all depends on the milk anyway. Cookies with milk is the best, except for chocolate covered toffee, especially with macadamia nuts from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Oh, now you’ve done it. Be right back.
E-books or paperbacks?
The convenience of e-books just can’t be beat, especially when I’m looking for something to read or trying a new author. I love the feature of downloading a free sample to see if I like a writer’s style. I can’t tell you how much money I wasted pre-e-books buying paperback books that looked interesting but that just didn’t keep my interest when I read a little further. Now I only buy books I really want to read. When it comes to a familiar and well-loved author, though, I really want to read the paperback. It’s easier for me to focus, I think, when I don’t have an electronic device in my hand. And I’ve been trying to read Nicola Griffith’s Hild on Kindle, and it’s nearly impossible. I’m hooked, but it’s a tough read. I keep wanting to flip back to something I read before, and I can’t easily do that. I think I’m going to buy the actual book too.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Uh, neither. I know I write time-travel, but I’ve never been into sci-fi much. I don’t think of time-travel as sci-fi. Time-travel is really about self-discovery, relationships, and history.
Beach or mountains?
All right, I’m trading in my non-answer to the ‘Star Wars or Star Trek’ question for a double answer here. Both.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m a pretty busy girl. That candy isn’t going to crush itself, you know! Oh, and I work full-time, so that takes up some time too. My wife and I are fanatic Gonzaga Women’s Basketball fans, so during the college season we go to every home game and watch every away game on the computer or TV. We go to Las Vegas every March for the WCC championship, and sometimes we follow the team on their post-season journey as far as our finances and my work schedule will allow. We have 2 dogs and 2 cats and they like a bit of attention too. We don’t have children, but we have lots of siblings and nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews. There’s never too little to do.
I started writing novels in the mid-90’s when I was a middle school teacher. Unfortunately, at that time I still thought I was straight. I tried to write about straight relationships, and I couldn’t get them off the ground. It makes sense. My own real life attempts at having a relationship never got off the ground either. So my attempts to find an agent or a publisher for my books at that time all failed.
When I did finally figure out that I was a lesbian, I realized I didn’t want to teach middle school anymore. I wanted to be out, and I couldn’t see that happening – not safely, anyway – while I was teaching 12 and 13 year olds. That was fifteen years ago, and the world was a different place for gays and lesbians. Now there are LGBT groups in middle schools, but back then gays and lesbians were still suspected of being pedophiles. Shortly after I left teaching, I told one of my best teacher friends, someone I’d thought of until then as being open and tolerant, that I was a lesbian. Her first response was that she didn’t want me to be around her children.
Sorry, digressing! You asked about the road to publishing. I’m getting there, I swear. I left teaching and went to law school, and for the next few years I just didn’t have time to write anymore, not what I wanted to write anyway. I got back into it in 2007-08 when I wrote Rip Van Dyke. I tried at first to find an agent, since that was the route I’d learned in the 90’s when I was writing straight books. I knew nothing about the lesbian publishing industry, I only knew that I needed to write lesbian stories. I received a few rejections from agents, and then I decided to submit the books directly to publishers of lesbian fiction. That’s when I learned about Bella and Bold Strokes and Regal Crest. I still have my rejections from the first two, but my acceptance by Regal Crest is carefully preserved in a special folder in my in-box.
You write in many different genres, time-travel, mystery, historical fiction, all with subplots of romance and typically a lot of humor. Do you have a favorite genre as a reader and as a writer?
I write what I want to read. It’s less about the genre than it is about the writing style. I like some adventure in my books, a hint of danger, at least some romance. I don’t read much contemporary romance because I usually need something else to keep me engaged—a dead body, a hidden treasure, a historical setting, time-travel – pretty much anything as long as it’s not too violent, gruesome, or scary. One of my favorite authors (non-lesbian, as far as I know) is Elizabeth Peters / Barbara Michaels. Every book has romance, but the romance develops as the characters try to achieve some goal, like solving a mystery or finding a treasure, even putting a spirit to rest so it will stop haunting people, and there’s always a lot of humor in her books.
How much research and what kind of research did you do for your historical mystery, Murder and the Hurdy Gurdy Girl?
I did a ton of research. I first wrote Murder and the Hurdy Gurdy Girl as a straight novel back in the 90’s, and that was before everything you needed to know was at your fingertips on the Internet. I went to the library and checked out books and read them cover to cover. I looked up old newspaper articles and copied them from microfiche. Ah, the good old days! I also visited the location where most of the book took place, an old mining town in Idaho called Burke (I changed the name to Needles Eye for the book). Burke is a ghost town now, and it was a lot of fun to explore it, but it was a little scary back in the 90’s when I went there by myself.
I rewrote the book a couple of years ago as a lesbian romance, which made it way better. I used the Internet to supplement and double-check the research I had done with the original version, and I visited Burke again, this time with my wife and a friend so it wasn’t so scary.
I still had a lot of story to tell after the first two books in the series. I’d kind of left Van and Bennie and Patsy hanging without a romantic resolution after Rescue at Inspiration Point, but I needed a time-travel story to move them along. Jill was never intended to be a main character in the series, but she’s the one who invented the time machine, so she was in charge of what happened next. She learned in Rescue at Inspiration Point that she had the ability to go back in time as well as forward, so I put myself in Jill’s head to try to figure out what she’d want to do with that ability. Amelia Earhart popped into my head. There were a lot of similarities between Amelia and Jill, and I knew Jill would be aware of that and want to meet her. The original story had Jill going back to meet Amelia, and I thought maybe she’d get stuck back there and the gang would have to try to help her return to the present. But then Amelia came to life and had some ideas of her own. She decided she wanted a taste of the future, and when she got there, she didn’t want to go back!
The titles of your time-travel series all follow the same RIP pattern. How did you come up with that?
When an author writes a book series but also writes stand-alone books, like I do, it’s important for readers to be able to identify at a glance if a book is part of the series or not. A is for Alibi and One for the Money were already taken, unfortunately, so I had to think of something else.
That’s the serious reason. The real reason is that I’m drawn to goofy titles. Rip Van Dyke started it all. I can’t remember where that first came from, but I remember designing the name of Jill’s time machine, the Rapid Intertemporal Projector, so that it would fit the title. When I was exploring the grounds of Expo 74 for the second book in the series, I learned there was a spit of land there called Inspiration Point. It was an excellent location for Bennie to land in ’74, so I thought it would be fun to stage the rescue there, and Rescue at Inspiration Point was born. I really thought of the R.I.P. pattern as kind of a private joke, maybe too subtle for anyone to notice. People did, though, and I realized I’d created a problem for myself. It’s not that easy to create titles with words beginning with R.I.P.!
What would you say is the most important theme in Return of an Impetuous Pilot, and what personal meaning does that theme have for you?
What a fun question! I love themes. I never start a book with a theme, but by the time I’m finished with it I can tell you what it is. The theme of this one is captured in a quote by Amelia Earhart that is printed at the beginning of the book: “It may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”
It sounds strange, but I wasn’t born knowing how to have fun. I was fourth of nine children, and some of my earliest memories are of taking care of the littler kids and trying to keep them safe. I was an anxious little worrier. Fun was for other people!
I’m still learning how to have fun. My wife, Tonie, helps a lot. I think she was born knowing how to have fun. Her philosophy is more “If it’s not fun, why are you doing it?” Good question.
How long did it take you to write Return of an Impetuous Pilot?
It normally takes me 9 months to write a book, just like having a baby. Return of an Impetuous Pilot took a little longer because I got stuck around 60 pages in and switched to working on Murder and the Hurdy Gurdy Girl. Once that project was done, I was chomping at the bit to get back to Return of an Impetuous Pilot, and it went quickly then. All I had to do was push. Do I know how to use a metaphor or what?
How do you find enough time to write, even though you have a day job? Any tips for how to be productive as a writer who can’t write full time?
You know, I always wonder how people have time to keep their houses clean or to golf every weekend or to ski in the winter. We all make time for what’s important to us.
Still, I have three basic tips for people who are serious about writing. First, avoid the TV. I watch very little television, though I do like American Idol and The Amazing Race¸ and now The Fosters. When Tonie starts to tell me about a new television show she thinks I might like, I stick my fingers in my ears and sing.
Second – this is a tough one – don’t read so much. I know that’s contrary to most advice for writers, and you do need to read a lot to become a good writer. But if you’re reading all the time, you can’t be writing. I used to read 3 or more books a week. Since I became a serious writer, I read 1 or 2 a month.
Third, get your wife to start writing too. Seriously! Tonie started writing a year or so ago (her first book, Struck! A Titanic Love Story, is being published by Regal Crest next year!) Now that she writes too, we both spend our spare time writing. It’s become something we do together rather than something that prevents us from spending time together.
Oh, and I just thought of a fourth tip. Don’t start Candy Crush! I wish someone had told me…
What’s your favorite scene in Return of an Impetuous Pilot?
Another fun question! I think my favorite scene is when Bennie finds herself in a speakeasy in 1933. She feels like she’s in a movie, and I just let her go to see what she would do, and she didn’t disappoint me.
Which scene in Return of an Impetuous Pilot was hardest for you to write?
Spoiler alert!!! This scene occurs near the end of the book and might spoil the ending for some. I’ll try not to give too much away. The hardest scene to write was the scene where Patsy catches Van with Bennie. I wanted to convey the pain that Patsy felt without telling it from her point of view. This is the first book in the series that doesn’t have any scene told from Patsy’s point of view. People love to hate Patsy, but I love Patsy. She’s a victim in this book, and I feel bad about that. I need to write Patsy’s story and make people see her the way I see her.
What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would Van, the main character in Return of an Impetuous Pilot, order? Black coffee? Soy-sugar-free-non-fat-vanilla latte? Double chocolate chip Frappuccino with whipped cream and chocolate sauce? Something else?
Oh, geez, I drink my coffee black, so I’m not very knowledgeable about coffee drinks, but Van would probably order a non-fat sugar-free drink with whipped cream and chocolate sauce on top. She’s a woman who tries to do the right thing, but she can’t resist indulgences—like syrup, or Bennie.
What projects are you working on right now?
I just finished a Christmas romance novella, Christmas Candy Crush. It’s my first attempt at a contemporary romance. I know I said I don’t read much contemporary romance, but I do read some, and I can’t resist a Christmas story. So I decided to write one. It should be out in November. Two other projects are now competing for my time. I’ve started a mystery in the style of Agatha Christie, but I’m also eager to start the next book in the RIP series. I really need to tell Patsy’s story. I’m in the very early stages of both projects, and I don’t know which will win.
Thank you for this very interesting interview, Kate! I look forward to your future works, and I will definitely read Tonie’s first book, too.
Have a great Sunday, everyone!
Conflict of Interest was the first novel-length work I ever wrote in English. The feedback I got from readers after the first edition was published encouraged me to keep writing and to keep writing in English. It’s a big part of what brought me to my current situation—living happily as a full-time writer—so this novel does forever hold a special place in my heart.
I’m glad that the second, improved version of Conflict of Interest now found a new home with Ylva Publishing. My wonderful editor Nikki Busch and I worked hard to make this second edition a much cleaner, smoother read compared to the first one.
Apart from the extensive line editing, I also introduced one important minor character, lesbian Lieutenant Del Vasquez, much earlier in the story. And there’s a whole new scene focusing on Aiden and Del, since these are the two most important people in the life of Dawn, my main character.
I hope my readers enjoy this second edition as much, if not more, than the first one. At 136,000 words (about 470 pages), it’s a nice, long read that should give you plenty of time to get to know Aiden and Dawn and for Aiden and Dawn to get to know each other.
For now, Conflict of Interest is available as an e-book via Amazon, but it will soon be available at other online bookstores and as a paperback too.
Created by Krystel Contreras & Jorge Courbis