Random House

More Than You Ever Needed To Know On How I Write

The Elusive Writing Process.

Contemporary Romance Author Lily Malone: queen of the simile, master of the detail, has kindly tagged me to answer some questions on How I Write. And well, after stroking my ego by saying nice things about me on her blog again, I couldn’t refuse. (That’s not entirely true – who can resist a rare chance to talk about themselves?)

In the year or so I’ve been fluffing around with one story, Lily (the beanie-clad beauty you see there) has managed to churn out THREE fabulous new releases. The latest, Fairway to Heaven is a fun, fresh read. It’s all about the utterly likeable Jenn, and how she got her Mojo back. But Fairway to Heaven offers a lot more than that. Whilst not the central storyline, it’s the first book I’ve read that paints a realistic picture of life with a toddler.  Brilliant stuff, Lily. 

FTHLilyMaloneIf you haven’t discovered Lily’s work, what are you waiting for? 

So, enough about me and Lily, here’s more about me:

More Than You Ever Needed To Know On: How I Write

What am I working on?   Other than folding a weeks-worth-of-washing….my second novel. In the tradition of Losing Kate, it has a what really happened  kind of suspense, but still has a love story as central to the conflict. It’s currently called Unguarded Moments, but my editor has a habit of changing titles on me so that may be temporary (I do trust you Bev!).  I don’t know exactly what it is yet (a tad disconcerting 90 thousand in, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise for myself!?). In essence it’s a catalogue of all the raw, unguarded moments the main characters share, and how each impacts on their lives. At least, I think…

How does my work differ from others of its genre?   Perhaps I’m a commitment-phobe, but I like to think of myself as cross-genre; a little lovin’, a little suspense, a lot of relationship dissecting. It’s eclectic. It’s honest. It’s unashamedly Australian.  

Why do I write what I do?  I guess I write about relationships, as, like a lot of women, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about them. Finding them. Ending them. Improving them. At sixteen it was when will I have one, at twenty-two it was when will I have a good one, and lately it’s changed into fine tuning the right one; he knows me so well so why can’t he read my mind, God damn it!

How does my writing process work?  I read somewhere that writing a novel is a bit like driving at night; you can’t see very far ahead, but you can make the whole trip that way. I’m very much a Pantser; I make it up as I go along. Often it’s a conglomeration of random ideas, little snippets that inspired me, or lyrics that challenged my view on something. These become the spice that are thrown in the slow-cooker in my head – they may, or may not go together. I just drive on till I see where I land. So let’s hope I don’t end up in a ditch with a horrible stew!  But if I do that’s okay, it’s all about the journey.

 So that’s it from me; I’ve done my dash, now it’s time to pass on the Blog Baton to another unsuspecting blogger. Only problem is, everyone I’ve asked was either (a) too shy, (b) too busy (c) done it.  This leaves me in a bit of bother, really. Perhaps someone could help me out. Perhaps you may wish to share how you write with us, make us feel less alone in this rather isolated profession…any takers??  Drop us a line if you do!

(BTW – since this post, the lovely Ali Morris will be picking up the baton. Thanks so much Ali (and Lily for being the go-between… you are making a habit of that!?))

 Losing Kate; a Women’s General Fiction, is being published by Random House Australia and is available on Ebook 26h March, and in Trade paperback 1st April.   

 LosingKateFrontShoutlinerandom10

Pre-order for your Kindle, or US copy at  Amazon

Pre-Order for ibooks at itunes.

Or  you can get the print version at Angus & Robertson – free delivery Australia Wide.

Just like the best people, some of the best books are an eclectic mix.

GenreCon

Just like the best people, some of the best books are an eclectic mix.

For those that don’t know, GenreCon (run by the fabulous Queensland Writers Centre)  is a meeting of the minds, a conference for the writers amongst us that have their stories shelved in their own corner of the book shop.

Whilst, in fact, that isn’t me, I decided to gatecrash anyway, and see what I could glean from their writing conventions, their readers expectations, and their valuable experience.

I write general women’s fiction, and at times, wish I had a few “conventions” to give me some guidance on what readers want and expect. But mostly I think I’m just not creative enough to invent parallel universes or my own species. Similarly to historicals, I’m just too damn lazy to research if a certain poem existed in Federation Australia, or when the zip was invented, before I include it in a novel.

I like to think that the strength in my writing comes from being “real”, the polar-opposite of most genre fiction. Even romance beds itself (pardon the pun) on escapism, with the fantasy hero and all those heart palpitations and visceral reactions. But we all need that escape sometimes, and it delivers that in spades.   After all, who want’s to read about taking public transport or changing nappies? Those experiences are real, but aren’t exactly entertaining.

Hopefully, my strength isn’t in the detailed description of world-building, it’s in the ability for readers to relate. (That’s not to say that people can’t relate to a two headed zombie having a relationship with a vampire, but I’m far too boring to pull that off.)

Whilst you could say I write love-stories, you could say I write suspense, I think I write reality. Reality Fiction. There’s a new genre for you.  I like to think I write in a frank manner that people can relate to – because it’s honest. About relationships. About friendship. About people. And whilst sometimes we want to be drawn away into another time and place, sometimes we just want to make sense of the world we’re in.  I know many of the conflicts of fantasy and sci-fi are universal, but it’s nice to read how someone not-unlike-yourself, got themselves out of a dilemma too.

GenreCon was great. I caught up with some old friends, and made some new ones, and enjoyed the variety of speakers and workshops on offer. But I came away wondering, what is Genre anyway, but a marketing tool? A way to define a work in order to sell it? I understand readers need to be aware of what they’re getting into.  I hate investing time in a breezy chick-lit, only to find the main love interest turns out to be a ghost part-way through (sorry, the ghost thing doesn’t do it for me. Yes. I’m a skeptic to the core).

Genre is useful for that, for creating expectations. But what about cross-genres, and stories with square edges that just don’t fit in the round holes marketers need? Can’t the world hear those stories too? Books are as individual as people. Whilst they have defined personality traits (a bit like genres), there is no accounting for those eccentrics that just rewrite the rules (and, from my experience, some of the best people (and books) are eccentrics).  I’m still not sure what genre Losing Kate is – a mystery? A love story? A general fiction? Who knows (and who cares?!). It is what it is. Eclectic. Skizoid. Weird. The fact that it straddles genres may have made it harder to pitch, harder to sell (and shelve) but it did get picked up. So your cross-genre story can too.

Write the story in you, not the one that fits into a popular genre or the next trend.

Is the very existence of “genres” sucking the originality of our stories, with writers grinding away those rough edges to fit their novels firmly into the pigeon hole their publisher/agent needs?  Let’s hope not.

That would be a sad story.

Getting Published in Australia

paper-96243_640How Do I get Published?

The hot question on many writers minds as they stare at that flashing cursor day after day, is will anyone ever read this? How do I even try to get published? Do I need an agent? And what can I do to make my story’s song be heard from the depths of that dreaded slush pile?

I’m new to this caper, my novel hasn’t even hit the shelves yet so I’m no expert, but I have been to several writers festivals, panels and workshops covering this very topic, and here are a few things that stood out for me. (Note, these are just opinions of selected reps in the industry and are not necessarily the only viewpoints).

  • What are Publishers looking for?  “Good stories, told well.”  And whilst we all probably think we are telling good stories, well, it is important to keep this basic concept front of mind. No matter where we are on the journey, we should never stop honing our skills, broadening our settings and experimenting with different points of view to make the story, and the way it unravels, the best it can be.
  • I’m finished! How do I know where to send my manuscript? As a member of the Queensland Writers Center, I receive a monthly newsletter with lots of tips and links to publishing opportunities.  Also consult their brilliant publication, The Australian Writers Marketplace, for a full listing of agents, magazines and publishers.  And remember one rule of thumb when considering agents and/or publishers is that money should always flow towards the author (excluding manuscript appraisals or other services of course).
  • What should I put in my submission? Stick to the guidelines (on the publisher websites) and be professional. Don’t rely on pink stationary or glitter bombs to stand out. Let your writing do that.  (Remember, publishers are people first, so no hounding them at their hotel room at a conference either!) Many festivals have pitching opportunities for new authors (eg RWA annual conference, Genre-Con in Brisbane). Use them as a tool to learn, and get used to summarising the essence of your tale.  Having a good shout line, or some catchy phrases for your blurb front of mind will always help sell your story!
  • Do I need a literary agent? Alex Adsett (Literary Agent) mentioned (in an excellent presentation in Fremantle recently), that 60% of books published in Australia are from un-agented authors.  In the USA it’s more like 90%, but here, having an agent is not compulsory. Having said that, some publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts from writers that are not represented by an agent.
  • I have heard it said that in Australia, it can be easier to find a publisher than an agent, as many agents only have capacity for a few projects a year, some of which are already filled by existing clients. They will negotiate contracts, hound publishers directly on your behalf, and free up your time to write, but will take around 15% (of your 5-10%) for their efforts.
  • Do I have an agent? No. I was lucky enough to be selected from that infamous slush pile with my debut novel, and I’m the first to acknowledge that a lot of luck went into that. The stars aligned for me. Beverly Cousins from Random House (and Lex, thank you!) just happened to be in the market for my kind of mystery, connected with my characters and engaged with my story, Losing Kate, to be published in early 2014.
  • I have a contract! Where can I go for advice? For those that may not want an agent,but need some advice, Alex Adsett also offers literary services such as contract negotiation and/or reviews, even to authors that are not ongoing clients (for a fee).
  • What commission should I expect, and how long does it all take?  Ebooks, a growing market, can be up and running in a few months, and you can expect 20-40%. Print books (a dying breed!) require up to 1 year for publication, and you can expect 5-10% commission (less due to the additional expenses of the printing).  Most print publishers offer an advance (less common in digital first).  Keep in mind this is exactly that – an advance of your royalties. The bigger it is, the longer it will be until you see another royalty cheque.
  • What is the next big trend and should I get on board? That is anyone’s guess! Rural Romance is huge (particularly in Germany!?) Coastal romance is the new genre I have heard people talk about. But for me, I believe you should write what you know,  without emulating anyone else or crystal-balling the next big thing. Stay true to your own voice and it will shine in your words.

Keep in mind that, despite less than 5% of work submitted being accepted, publishers are after the same thing as you – getting good stories out into the world. Their livelihood relies on submissions, so get writing!

A recent Random House blog’s #1 tip for aspiring writers was:

“Write your arse off and read as widely as possible. In the first instance you will discover your own voice (and the voices of many others) by constantly engaging with your mind, the world and the page.”

I’ve got a free handout I provided at a recent USQ Workshop I ran on getting published – find it here.

 

Save

Will I ever just read again?

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I’m new to this gig. I am a shiny faced front-rower, wide-eyed and willing to take it all in, and I’m enjoying the ride. However, one thing I haven’t gotten used to, is that I can’t seem to just read a novel anymore without my editor cap firmly pushing on my ears. I hone in on opening paras, get suspicious of throw away lines, analyse hooks and red herrings. I assess tense, point of view, even commas get my attention. Whilst I’m learning, I wonder if I will ever simply read again!

I love books, and want to get to know them better. Learn how they tick.  But it’s a bit like watching your favourite TV show faithfully for years, enjoying the escapism, and suddenly being invited backstage. You see the actors, the scripts, the set, and come to realise … they’re not real!? They’re trying to fool me! Somebody made it all up! (Okay, I wasn’t actually sitting on my couch watching Grey’s Anatomy thinking McDreamy was living in Seattle all this time, but you can only dream…).

I blame it on the edit. It can be an all-consuming process.

I’m a “Pantser”, not a “Planner” when it comes to writing.  Unlike Stephanie Meyer, I wasn’t hit with a fabulously vivid dream and plotted a few best sellers from there. I made it up as I went along. It was great fun, but resulted in a hell of a lot of rework. Logic tells me I should rethink that second time around if only for efficiency, but I write because I enjoy it, and it just doesn’t seem as fun when you know the end before you type in Chapter 1. Perhaps a little of both is the right balance.

I spent longer editing my manuscript, than writing it.  For me, editing was far less enjoyable than the freedom and excitement of writing that first draft (and Lily Malone, you can vouch for the fact that it definitely needed a cut and polish from those early drafts!? Not to mention extensive panel work…).  I think I cut about 20,000 words (and missed none of them). There is something to be said for authors writing themselves into the story, only to chop it out. Start where the story starts…I can hear you saying it Lily!

As I leave the editing phase for a while, and embark on a second novel, perhaps I can also muster a quiet read for enjoyment, and appreciate someone else’s hard yards.

I can only hope.

 

 

Losing Kate

Kylie’s debut novel Losing Kate was released by Random House April 2014.

Losing Kate

Read the official blurb here

#1 Fiction on iTunes April 2014.

“This fantastic debut shifts back and forth between present and past, easing out the suspense at a masterful clip. With a great ear for dialogue, and a crackling sense of humor, author Kylie Kaden makes you care deeply for her troubled protagonists.” iBook Editor’s Notes.

I’m delighted to announce that Losing Kate was chosen in the Random 10 – the top 10 books people are talking about for 2014.

Titles to Bookmark in 2014

Where Can I Get it?

Stocked at Big W, Angus and Robertson, QBD, Bookworld, Fishpond, Airport NewsLink stores, and many independent book sellers.

Got a Kindle? Pre-order your Kindle version from Amazon here (release date March 26th) : Losing Kate – Kindle Copy

If you’re a traditionalist, old fashioned print versions may still be available from bookshops (if you can find one!) or online retailers (such as fishpond (free delivery in Aus) or The Book Depository who offer free delivery worldwide).

Angus & Robertson also offer free delivery Australia Wide.

Already in the know about Goodreads? Add Losing Kate to your reading list here:

Losing Kate

Der Sommer Mit Kate

Losing Kate was also published internationally in May 2015.  The German translation Der Sommer Mit Kate is also available through Amazon here  –  Der Sommer Mit Kate


Parenting Articles

For all the parents out there who like a dose of reality (instead of unrealistic, eternally heartwarming stories that are commonplace), have a browse of the latest My Child Australia Magazine.

Along with a lot of facts on pregnancy and childbirth, you will find honest accounts of parenting in the naughties in my columns.

I’m no expert. The wheels fall off for me every day at some point.  But I hope that sharing my thoughts on the challenges of family life, might just make a fellow parent feel less alone in the daily grind.

 

Contact

Contact Kylie by emailing:

                                                       contact@kyliekaden.com.au

 Losing Kate will be available in print and ebook formats from Random House Australia in early 2014.

More information available later in the year.

Follow Kylie on Facebook at

                                                           facebook.com/KylieKadenAuthor

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Rockstar Afternoon

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I just opened my author photo shoot proofs from Anna Gilbert Photography. What a fantastic job she’s done! Not only did the heavens produce perfect weather for us on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, I felt like a rockstar for the afternoon (a very rare event in my world of sweeping up crushed Weetbix and stepping on Lego mines).

Anna provided delightful company as I learned to keep my chin out and head down, and she produced great pics (got to love those secret camera angles to hide double chins!? And remember ladies, in standing shots, bend the knee, and halve the thigh!?).

Now we just have to decide the best picture for the jacket of Losing Kate.  My only concern is Anna made me look so much better, that I’m afraid seeing me in real life will be rather disappointing!?