Check out the following two interviews with first time novelist, Kristin Wallace, and seasoned author, Janet Lane Walters.
Kristin Wallace’s first novel, Marry Me, will soon be released by Astraea Press. Growing up Kristin devoured books like bags of Dove Dark Chocolate. She writes inspirational romance and women’s fiction filled with love, laughter and a leap of faith. Until Kristin is a full time author, she works as an advertising copywriter. She also enjoys singing in her church choir and worship team and playing flute in a community orchestra.
Kristin, when did you know you wanted to pursue the craft of writing professionally, and what were the circumstances surrounding that decision?
That’s a pretty looonnggg story. I was about 25 when I had the great epiphany that I was supposed to be a writer. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing and I got nowhere. After a couple years I put the writing aside and went back to school to study advertising copywriting. I figured I could still write, but actually get paid. Spent two years in school, followed by seven years of working in ad agencies and as a freelance writer. Somewhere in that time I had started writing down ideas for stories. Then one day I stopped. I realized ten years had gone by and I was still overcome with the urge to write books. So I decided to try again. I joined Romance Writers of America and the local chapter, Florida Romance Writers. I learned the craft of writing. I grew into a better writer. Wrote three books. I got an agent. And I still didn’t sell. Not for another seven years when I saw a notice for online pitches through the Savvy Authors website. One of those accepting pitches was Astraea Press, a digital first publishing company specializing in inspirational and sweet fiction and romance. I pitched to them and sold within a few days. So when I say “never give up on your dream” I mean it. You never know when the right circumstances will come together. The characters in my book would all say it’s part of a bigger Plan.
What are your goals associated with being a writer? Do you have one type of book that will be your crowning achievement?
I want to make a living as a full time author. That’s the first goal. I want to write books that are uplifting and have a positive message of healing, forgiveness, and a true eternal love. I also don’t ever want to hit somebody over the head with religion. I think anyone can read my books, even if they don’t follow a particular faith. I want to be a best selling author and I want to see one of my books on a bookshelf in a bookstore. This first book being released is a crowning achievement after 17 years of working for it. Hopefully, it will not be the ultimate crowning achievement, though.
Do you type straight through a manuscript, be it editing or writing a fresh draft, or do you take little breaks in between (like playing a hand of solitaire between each chapter?)
If I’m really into the story and the words are flowing I’ll keep going. My writing time is so limited because of that pesky, full-time, paying job that I can’t afford to lose the pace. Although, I will take a break here or there when I get to a point where I’ve reached a little closure with a scene and maybe I’m not exactly sure how the next scene is going to start.
How did the idea for your book come about? How did you develop your characters? Are they based on anyone you know?
MARRY ME started with the idea of a cynical, single woman who hates weddings somehow being recruited to take over a wedding planning business. That’s all I knew about for a while. Then I spent a lot of time asking questions. “Who is this woman?” “Why does she hate weddings?” “What would compel her to take over a wedding planning business?” It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Seth (my Hero) that the story really took shape. I asked myself who the love interest could be. Someone Julia would run into a lot as she’s planning the weddings. And then I thought of a minister. Once I had him, the rest of the story came together in a flash. Seth pushed the story in a totally different direction and that’s when I decided to make the book an inspirational romance. I’d never really considered writing inspirational before that.
I wouldn’t say the characters are based an actual person. My parents have been married to each other for over 45 years so I have no idea where I came up with a woman whose parents each had multiple divorces under their belts, lol
What would be the one piece of advice you would offer to an aspiring writer?
The first thing I would say is to “finish the book”. There are so many people who start out saying “I want to be a writer” and then they somehow get lost. They either never finish the book or they finish, but keep editing over and over while never doing anything with it. They can’t let it go. That might actually be some advice. Learn when to let go of a book and move on. Your first book will probably be bad, and that’s ok. Finishing it is the first goal. Because then you know you can finish. Also, I’d say to never give up and never delete anything. You never know when that abandoned manuscript can be dusted off. MARRY ME started out its life as a 1st Person POV book. I ended up revising it to 3rd Person, and I honestly think it’s a better book. Also, you also never know what will happen with the publishing industry. In the last 7-8 years since I’ve been actively pursuing a publishing career again, the entire industry has changed. It’s a huge shift, with the small epubs and indie publishing. MARRY ME had been sitting in my computer for several years after not selling, but then I ended up getting two offers for it last year within days of pitching and sending the manuscript.
Anyone who wants to read a humorous, uplifting book with a positive faith message about healing and forgiveness.
Anyone who wants to read a sweet romance without graphic sexual content. (However, there is still great romantic chemistry between my couple, Julia and Seth.)
Anyone one who enjoys quirky, small town settings.
Kristin, thank you for taking the time to let future readers know more about you. I wish you all the success in your writing career!
MARRY ME by Kristin Wallace
Julia Richardson is no fan of weddings. A lifetime of watching her parents treat relationships like the flavor of the month has taught her that love is for fools. Then she learns her former stepsister is having a crisis with her pregnancy. The crisis has Julia returning to the small Southern town she’s been avoiding for years. Before she knows it, Julia’s been pressed into service running her stepsister’s wedding planning business. Julia doesn’t know a garter from a garden hose, but now she must navigate couples along the bumpy path down the aisle. In the midst of it all, Julia makes the most unexpected discovery of all…love, with widowed minister, Seth Graham. Julia’s been running from love and everything spiritual for most of her life. It’s not until she finds the courage to stop running and learns to believe in the power of love, faith and family that she finds her own “I Do” moment.
This excerpt from Marry Me describes Julia and Seth seeing other for the first time since they were teenagers:
“Come on, Seth is around here somewhere,” Eric said. “Let me introduce you. Oh, wait… I forgot. You two know each other, don’t you?”
Julia followed Eric, and in the distance she spotted a group of men helping to set up the field. She searched for a geeky-looking beanpole, but her eyes stopped on a beautifully built, dark-haired man. All she could see was the back of him. He was tall, with shoulders a mile wide, and long, powerful legs.
Who knew they grew such delicious specimens down here in Covington Falls?
“Hey, Seth!” Eric called out. “Look who I found.”
All the men turned, including the delicious one. Oh, yeah. Mr. Tall Guy was wonderful from the front, too. Nicely crafted masculine features. Julia couldn’t quite make out the eye color, but she had a feeling they were spectacular as well. Their eyes met, and she felt a little jolt. “This one,” a voice reflected in her head. His eyes widened, and Julia knew he felt it, too. If they were in a movie this would be the moment when violins swept into a chorus and drums started pounding.
Then he frowned, and his expression became shuttered. He broke away from the group and started over in her direction. That’s when it dawned on her exactly who she’d been drooling over.
The drums turned to clanging bells.
The breath lodged in her throat. There was no way the geeky boy she’d known had grown into… him! But somehow he had. She stiffened even more when she recalled this gorgeous man was also a minister.
Can you get struck by lightning for thinking impure thoughts about a minister? Isn’t lust one of the seven deadly sins?
Oh, this was not good. Not good at all.
It’s not good for a woman to look so amazing in a pair of denim shorts, Seth Graham thought. Not good at all.
How was it possible? Fifteen years and she still made him feel like… well… like he was fifteen. He’d grown up, answered the call to the ministry, and married and buried a wife. Yet somehow prickly, bitter, keep-your-distance Julia Richardson still scared the life out of him. Because prickly, bitter, keep-your-distance Julia Richardson was also still the sexiest female he’d ever met. A sexy woman who was now his stepmother’s ex-stepdaughter, making her his… well… he didn’t quite know what it made her. He only knew it was bizarre and twisted.
Yeah, Julia, the putz you remember did grow into this.
Follow Kristin at her website or blog page and she’ll let you know as soon as she gets a release date for Marry Me!
I am please to host this interview with Janet Lane Walters, author of at least 40 published works, including a large number of novels, novellas, and short stories. Janet says she’s been writing since the dark ages, when typewriters and carbon paper were still in use. She is married to a psychiatrist who has no desire to cure her obsession with writing. She has a BA in English and a BS in Nursing. Medicine often plays a role in her writing. Janet has four children and seven grandchildren and has used some of them in her books.
Thank you, Janet for joining me in this interview. I wonder–did family/childhood play a role in determining your love of writing, and if so, how?
My love of writing began as a reader. My grandfather, mother and father, according to family legend began reading to me as soon as they brought me home. Actually, my grandfather taught me to read and I had my first library card at age four. By third grade, I’d passed from the children’s section to the adult section, I read Anna Karenina for a book report. The teacher freaked out and called my parents in. My father said I could read any book they had on their shelves and if I could understand it that was good. That was my first attempt at fiction since I decided I did not like Anna throwing herself under a train. Childhood days were also spent with friends where we sat on the porches of the row houses where we lived and told stories, spooky ones at night, especially during World War 2 when there were no lights allowed. We also wrote and put on plays for the neighborhood. I continued writing stories until I went into training as a nurse, though I did help write the Christmas plays we did for the children in the neighborhood. I also gathered information and emotions during this time.
You have quite a history as a writer. What do you consider your crowning moments and achievements in your writing career?
Crowning moments and achievements mean little to me, though winning the EPIC Award with my writing friend, Jane Toombs for Becoming Your Own Critique Partner in 2003 was an interesting moment. Our publisher Zumaya has changed the title to Words Perfect – Becoming etc. Each time I finish a book or novella I feel as if I have achieved a milestone. The first sale of a short story “A Small Smile” was an interesting moment. I called my stories as my “brain children.” Called my husband who was a resident in Psychiatry to tell him and got the secretary. Had to leave a message. “I sold my first child is what she heard. He called back to discover what the child had done and we laughed over the incident. That moment told me I was on the way. The second was when an editor who had bought other stories told me the short story I sent her sounded like an outline for a novel and I was off and running to learn how to write a novel. Sixteen re-writes later, I sold “New Nurse In Town.” Why so many re-writes? In those days editors wanted the entire manuscript and sent back often detailed critiques. The first editor bought the story on submission 17. During that time I learned much about the craft of writing.
How realistic is it for a writer to hope to enjoy their profession full-time? What is the best way to pursue a long term career in writing?
As to writing full-time being realistic. This is a hard call to make. I have friends who have done well writing full time and that’s because they’ve hit the NY Times best-selling list and can afford to write. There are other writers like myself who are retired and can write every day as they wish. Unless you have a working spouse who supports you or money in the bank to pay bills writing will be a part-time job for most. The real thing comes down to persistence and how much the career is desired. I’ve been fortunate, though there was a span of about ten years when I didn’t write. Didn’t keep me from garnering ideas and notebooks filled with these ideas.
Is finding an agent a solution for authors who don’t enjoy, or aren’t familiar enough with, the marketing and promotion process? If you could only offer one suggestion to a writer to market (not promote) their work, what would that be?
I don’t have an agent. In the past I’ve had 3 who did nothing for my career. Today having an agent isn’t necessary. When you think about electronic publishing with small presses and self-publishing there are worlds of opportunities. If someone interested in becoming an author, there are ways to learn. There are groups on line to promote your work. There are organizations that can help you become published and can teach you the ropes needed to make a success at their chosen career. I belong to RWA and my local chapters. Good advice here. I also belong to EPIC but you must be published electronically to join but their website gives loads of advice about publishers and publishing. Advice is decide where you want to go and if you’re writing for money seek an agent. If you’re writing because you must, then submit to any and all who will take a look at your manuscript.
A great deal of emphasis is put on authors to network online, especially through blogging. Writers often lament the hours spent online instead of writing. Is online networking a viable promotional tool, even if at the expense of an author potentially losing writing time?
I spend time on line, promoting. I do blog every day but much of the work is done for me. Does it sell books. I know a few of the people who belong to the blog do buy the books but I also promote other authors on my blog as well. The posts I do seldom take me more than ten minutes. I belong to a number of promotional groups and I avail myself of Twitter and Facebook but never for long. I kind of swing by and on Twitter I have several groups that I check in to see what my friends and colleagues are saying and respond. Having a presence is important for a writer in these times. Name recognition is where it’s at and if you don’t promote and have people seeing your name it isn’t going to happen for you. Some publishers may promote you but that’s not a given. I have one who does and my sales are better with them than elsewhere.
Is there any chance your interest in astrology plays into your writing and/or love of classical music? (In other words, is there a spiritual connection for you between astrology and writing or astrology and classical music?) Does music inspire your writing topics?
As I’ve told people I develop my characters using Astrology. I use the Sun sign for their inner nature, the Moon for their emotional nature and the Rising Sign to show their face to the world. I could develop charts for each character but math is not my greatest subject. Using the three parts of a horoscope allows me to layer each character. At present I’m working on a series where all the heroines are born under the sign of Cancer and the heros are each from a different sigh. I listen to a lot of music but I find when I’m writing action scenes I use the 1812 Overture. For romance I find many of the lush waltzes from Tchaikovsky to put me in the mood. Listening to music with words distracts me so any vocal pieces are left for enjoyment. There are no connections between music, astrology and writing that are spiritual for me. They’re just what I like. Once earned enough casting charts with a friend to allow us to visit Ireland.
Shattered Dreams is Janet’s latest book. Torn apart by lies and threats, can Rafe and Manon rediscover the love they once shared? Take a look at these excerpts where Janet introduces her main characters and you’re sure to become a Walters fan:
Here’s where the reader meets Manon:
Manon Lockley parked in the driveway of the small yellow brick ranch house she’d converted into an office for her medical practice. She slid from the driver’s seat and paused to inhale the fragrance of the June roses.
At the moment she felt like the White Rabbit. She was very late for office hours. Mrs. Patton, director of nursing at Fern Lake General had been admitted to the hospital this morning with chest pain. As her primary physician, Manon had remained to monitor the older woman’s condition and to work with the cardiologist to stabilize the hospital’s most admired employee.
Manon glanced at her watch. Well past three. How long would she need to stay? Her stomach grumbled reminding her she hadn’t eating lunch. Exhaustion caused by the emergency made her shoulders slump under the weight of the event.
Now we meet Rafe:
“Manon!” Rafe Marshall leaped from the examining table in time to catch her before she hit the floor. He cradled her against his chest. “Didn’t mean to scare you,” he whispered. Why did she think he was dead? He knew news of his accident had been kept quiet because the police believed he’d been deliberately forced off the road. Who had told her? Had the informant been the driver of the dark car his rescuer had seen speeding from the scene?
The citrus aroma of her shampoo brought memories of years ago when he had buried his face in her sunlit hair before they made love. His body responded to her presence and the sensual recollections. Thank heavens the gown was cloth. The urgent rise of his cock would have punctured paper.
Carefully, he placed her on the table. He stroked her face with his fingers and brushed his lips over hers. Any anger remaining from the past vanished beneath the heat of desire.
I thank Janet, for her candid sharing and wisdom. Her gift of writing extends to her exceptional blogs where she offers a plethora of intriguing interviews, insightful writing tips for authors, and helpful book reviews. Check out her blogsites! Janet’s wonderful library of entertaining books can be found at Amazon.com.