Avon Author Kay Thomas pinned me down and asked me to answer a few questions about writing for her. I, in turn, am forcing her to do the same. Here are my answers, and hers will run on Monday.
KT: What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing?
EB: To let go of comparisons to other writers. As an author you need to learn to be confident in your own stories and tell them from the heart. If you start comparing your stories to others, you are missing the most important point: that other person could not have told your story. It was yours to tell. Own it. Write your heart into it. And don’t worry about what other people’s successes or stories. You have no control over that.
EB: People tend to be surprised at how much of my books I hand write before I ever sit down at the keyboard. I go through piles of notebooks and scraps of paper while writing a book. I find that my muse has a mind of her own and when she gets going it is best to sit down and write everything that is coming out—just get it down as fast as I can. I carry a small notebook with me always.
Then I let the notes mull a bit and when I do sit down at the computer I use as a starting point. Sometimes I have fully realized scenes, other times it is only a smattering of dialogue—but those bits are usually enough that when I start to transcribe them, the rest sort of unfolds before me. And when I have days I don’t know what to do, I open the notebook and just start typing from it verbatim and that will often times grease the story wheels to get me moving forward.
KT: Do you outline an entire book before writing it?
EB: Yes. But I never follow it. I find that as the story unfolds, threads shift and rise up out of the fabric that I never expected, but they are character elements, surprises that I cannot ignore—they are gems in the rough. So the roadmap I start with is always a guide, but not a hard and fast route.
KT: What’s your best advice for aspiring writers?
EB: This is a craft. And you don’t get it right the first time. No one does. By way of example, I knit. A lot. And even though I’ve knit since I was seven, I know that with every project there are moments when I tear it back or tear it apart completely and redo it until it works. That is how you learn. Never think your words are carved in stone. They are not. They always need to be reshaped, sharpened and polished—even the ones that seem brilliant when they come tumbling out of the keyboard. So many people seem to rush their work—this grand race to call themselves published. But if no one wants to read your story because it is rough or uneven, because it isn’t polished, what is the point. It takes patience, rewriting and a dedication to craft to be successful in this business.
KT: What’s next for you? Can you tell us a little about it?
EB: I have two upcoming projects coming out. My first novella for Avon Impulse, Have You Any Rogues? (November 12th) and the third book in my Rhymes with Love series, If Wishes Were Earls (December 31st). The novella was a kick to write—Lady Henrietta Seldon has fascinated me since she came on stage in Along Came a Duke. Then as I was writing And The Miss Ran Away With The Rake, there is a scene where she and Viscount Dale cross paths—just for a blink, and in that moment I could see them staring daggers at each other and knew there was a story there. I LOVE those moments.
And of course, If Wishes Were Earls, is finally the story of Harriet and Roxley, who have been in love with each other for years. Again, when they first happened upon each other in Along Came a Duke, I knew they were perfect for each other. But happily ever after is never that easy. I loved putting Roxley and Harriet through their paces in If Wishes Were Earls, if only to see them find their way together through all sorts of adversity—and rightly so. A happy ending is earned.
Kay Thomas writes romantic suspense and her upcoming book, Hard Target, will be available November 12th. Learn more about Kay at KayThomas.net.
Join Kay and Elizabeth as they take over the Avon Facebook page, Monday, November 11th at 7pm ET for an evening of live chats, prizes and mayhem.