WG:. Welcome Kerry. Thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
KS: I was born in Houston, downtown at the Hermann Zoo, oops, I mean hospital. I grew up in a zoo—four brothers, two older and two younger, and no sister to share frustrations with. It was a democratic house with one television, so we always voted on what to watch. Surprise! The vote was always 4 to 1. It’s little wonder that I turned to books for solace and companionship. By the time I was a teenager, I was convinced that being a real live author had to be the coolest job in the world. After all, don’t they travel to exotic places and make tons of money? Hmm. Where did I go wrong? Well, I did recently go to Shreveport, LA. Pretty exotic for me! Tons of money? Still working on it. But it’s definitely the coolest job in the world.
WG: Let’s talk about your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.
KS: I think it was a number of factors that all had to be in place before I could start. I’d always thought that writing would be the best job ever, but I simply didn’t believe I could do it. I would daydream about stories, but never write down a word. It took me many years to build up the confidence and inner strength. By then, I was remarried, and my second husband was very supportive. My daughter, who was a pre-schooler, was making up the most wonderful stories and entertaining everyone in her pre-school. I thought she was wonderfully talented, then realized that just maybe, she had inherited some of it from me. Another birthday passed, and I realized that time was racing by, and I still hadn’t started on my dream. Did I want to be on my deathbed someday, wondering why I hadn’t even tried? So, in 1998, I finally started writing. Two years later, I sold my first book, and thought “Duh! Why didn’t I start this earlier?” But I just wasn’t ready before. We all have our own timing that’s right for us.
WG: Tell us about your journey.
KS: I wrote my first book, a historical romance, in 1998. I didn’t have a computer yet, so I wrote it by hand. My son had built a computer from spare parts, and he let me use it while he was at school. I typed in that first book and discovered it was 550 pages long! I cut it down a bit and thought it was ready to be published (yeah, right!) I didn’t know how to get it published, but I discovered RWA online and joined. I sent out queries to publishers, and they all refused to even look at my book. I was shocked! What to do?
I started a second book, another historical romance. By this time, I had learned about the contests in RWA. I started entering my first chapter. I made it to the final round! I went to my first conference in Memphis and met Winnie. She had finaled, too, so she was the dreaded competition. Boo, hiss! But she was just too wonderful to hate! We’ve been friends ever since, even though she did win second place, and I came in last!
After a few more months of entering contests and tweaking that worn-out first chapter , I won first place! I sent a thank you note to the judging editor and asked if he would like to see the entire book (it was finished by then). I received a request for a full, and six months later, I received The Call.
You would think that would be the end, and I wrote happily ever after, but the publishing industry is too tricky for that. The publisher who bought my first book took two years to get it published. In that time, my editor quit, and they decided to ditch their historical romance program. My career appeared to be over by the time my first book, For Love or Country, made its debut. My wonderful agent, Michelle Grajkowski, tried to sell my other historical romances, but we found it nigh impossible to sell an American-set historical. What to do?
I finally decided I would have to re-invent myself. I turned to contemporary paranormal and discovered I could be wonderfully silly and get paid for it. What a hoot! My proposal for How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire sold within a week. It was released in August 2005 and spent three weeks on the USA Today bestseller list. And that’s how I became a writer of vampire comedy.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
KS: My first sale was my second completed manuscript. The first one has never sold, and unfortunately, I have a few more that may never sell. I’ve decided, though, that you never waste time and effort when writing. Those unsold books were a necessary part of my learning curve.
WG: What changed most about your life as a direct result of joining the ranks of published authors?
KS: Not much changed, really. People at conferences who don’t know me might view me differently, but I’m still pretty much the same. I still belong to the same critique group, and I still struggle with the same fears. The writing hasn’t gotten easier. In fact, it keeps getting harder because I keep expecting more from myself.
WG: What about your writing process:
Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
KS: I try to write every day. With children around, I have to be flexible.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
KS: I do a lot of thinking about the hero and heroine. I really can’t start until I know them well. Once I know them, I can dive in. They let me know where the plot should go. If I get stalled, it’s because I’m forcing them to do something they don’t want to do.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
KS: For me, it’s all about the characters—the hero and heroine.
WG: Has anything about the way you work changed since you became a published author?
KS: No. I always wrote every day, even before I was published. Now though, I have less time. There are other things to do now, like promotion, website updates, contests, etc, etc.
WG: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?
KS: I still tend to worry a lot. I have to keep reminding myself to trust myself, that I can do it.
WG: You are currently published in more than one sub-genre of romance. Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?
KS: Right now, I am delighted to be writing paranormal. I love reading paranormal, but I avoid reading any other vampire romances in order to avoid any copycatting. But ghosts, werewolves, witches, etc—I love them all. I still read historicals, too. And contemporary comedies.
WG: Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?
KS: Hmm. I can’t imagine writing anything but romance. Nothing better than a good love story with a happy ending!
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?
KS: Never give up. Keep writing, keep reading, and keep finding joy in the journey.
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What do you struggle the most with?
KS: I love the freedom of it. And the creativity.
I still struggle with believing in myself.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.
KS: When I’m feeling down and doubting myself, I listen to Enya’s song at the end of the first Lord of the Rings movie. It ends with these lines--
“Believe and you will find your way…. A promise lives within you now.”
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
KS: I’m working on my third full-length vampire comedy. It’s called Vampires in Kilts and will release sometime in 2006. The next one to release is the second book, Vamps and the City, which should be available April 25th. In November, I have a Christmas novella in an anthology titled Sugarplums and Scandal. The novella is called “A very Vampy Christmas.”
WG: Tell us about plans for future books. (your next work(s), whether you are contracted for more, when the next one might be released, etc.)
KS: Avon asked me to write three more vampire comedies. I’m working on the first one now—Vampires in Kilts.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your fans can get in touch with you.
WG: Thanks so much for your time and answers. And I’ll be looking for Vamps In The City next time I’m in the bookstore!