Monday, May 25, 2009

The Paperback Writer And Settling In

My guest Over Coffee is Paranomal Romance author, Kendra Leigh Castle. She has a dual career as a working mom and Naval Officer's wife--which I can assure, comes with social obligations and work; plus she is the author of The MacInnes Werewolf triology, nominated for RT Reviewer Choice awards. She is also busy writing a new series for Harlequin Nocturne. As you can see, Kendra leads a busy life.

So how does she juggle it all? How is she adjusting to being a busy working mom?





The other day, another mother said something to me, in passing conversation about being impressed that I was a working mom. My first thought was “Huh? Me?” Probably because I’ve been doing my own thing and raising my kids for so long now that it’s just not a term I have ever associated with myself. I mean, yeah, we all work, right? At least, this is what it feels like when I’m slipping in dog puke on the kitchen floor on my way to wipe my preschooler’s nose; all while my two older kids are rapidly progressing towards a fistfight over my daughter’s refusal to share looseleaf paper.

But despite the circa 1980s vision of a “working mother” that pops into my head every time the phrase comes up (big perm, briefcase, power suit with big shoulder pads, and I know, I watched too much TV growing up), I suppose it’s true. Writing is, after all, a hell of a lot of work. But with three young kids, I guess everything sort of flows together…I don’t look at one thing as more work than the other. The moving parts are just different. My day is work, with fleeting moments of relaxation and/or the eating of something from my candy stash that gives me that ahhh feeling. My writing is just a part of the routine now, scrounged out of my three-year-old’s quiet times and pushed into tired nights when I might rather slink off to watch Ghost Hunters (thank God for DVR). But my surprise at the label, I’ve come to realize, is simply emblematic of me finally settling into my life as a published writer. The process is still as frustrating and fascinating as it ever was, but it’s not novel anymore. I go in my office. Small people follow me into my office and demand things like food and dispute mediation (which they often ignore, leading me to chase them away and in the direction of their other, louder parent). The pets snooze in here while I work. My husband gives the computer dirty looks when I’ve spent too much time with it on any given day. It’s all so…normal.

The settling in has been an eye-opening process for me. When my first book came out last year, I was an utter neophyte. As in, when it came to the world of publishing, I was about as dumb as a box of rocks. I’m a pretty smart girl, but I will admit to total failure to comprehend anything much at the beginning except “me write book/me sell book.” I’d written one (bloated, reasonably bad) manuscript, joined RWA, shopped the MS around, cried over a bunch of rejections, and finally, buried the no-go book in my closet and tried again. Wrote the Scottish werewolf book I’d been kicking around in my head, started subbing, and BOOM, suddenly I had an agent. Not long after, I had the sale. Two books, two years, start to…well, publication. Which is both very cool, and, looking back, incredibly overwhelming. My learning curve was huge from the start. A year after the release of Call of the Highland Moon, and having just finished up the trilogy with Wild Highland Magic, I’m still rushing up that curve, but there are a few ways I know I’m settling in:

  • I confuse family members when I start to talk about the business aspect of writing, and so wind up fleeing to my writing friends, who actually understand what the hell I’m talking about.

  • I actually have writing friends.

  • I’ve been through both a publisher change AND an agency change (my agent recently formed her own agency with a partner, so of course I went with her), and I didn’t freak out.

  • I have a blog, website, MySpace and Facebook, and I actually know how to use them. Mostly.

  • Bad reviews no longer make me cry (brood or steam, maybe, but not cry).

  • When I tell my family “I’m working,” they assume I’m doing something other than looking at Perez Hilton and may even let me write. Yes, sometimes I sneak over to Perez Hilton anyway, but my procrastination habits are too scary to really go into here.

  • The word “deadline” now inspires more dread than excitement

And most importantly…

  • When I talk/think/dream about what I’m doing, it always involves the word “Career.”

My life has always been a little crazy. I’m a Navy wife, with an often-absent husband, three young kids, two little dogs with a penchant for regurgitation and an occasionally sympathetic cat. People are constantly telling me (as I’m sure people tell every writer) “I don’t know how you do it.” But see, I’ve managed the whirlwind that is my life by having a head full of stories. Some things are always going to be rough, I think: putting out a new submission, for instance, still makes me a little sick to my stomach. But I don’t turn red when people ask me what my stories are about anymore (yep, I can say “sexy Scottish werewolves” with a totally straight face now, even to strangers), and I can even tell you a little bit about my own personal writing process, when pressed. I’d probably still pass out if Nora Roberts said hello to me, but I’m getting it. Slowly but surely, I’m getting it.

I’ve always written. But I finally feel like a writer. And no matter what comes next, that’s a pretty cool place to be.

Thanks for having me over for coffee, Sia!

***

Kendra Leigh Castle is the author of the MacInnes Werewolves trilogy, as well as the upcoming series The Fallen, coming from Harlequin Nocturne. She lives in Maryland with her husband, three kids, and menagerie of pets, and loves to be visited online at http://www.kendraleighcastle.com/ and at her blog, http://www.kendraleighcastle.blogspot.com/.




29 comments:

Anonymous said...

wonderful interview Sia!

Kendra...OMG, I hear how you managed it all but I'm still not sure I could do all that you do...WOW!

Sia...I haven't been by because my link to you wasn't connecting...now that you visited me...I've got your addie and I'll check my link! I've missed you!

Cyber hugs
Hawk

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

Hi Hawk! Yeah, it sounds a little insane to me too when I lay it all out like that:-) And yet here I am, relatively sane. Mostly. I think! Thanks for coming by!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kendra, welcome to Over Coffee. It's been a crazy morning and I'm running behind--don't you just hate that when it happens?

I've been looking forward to having you for some time. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hawk, so glad to see you! The tornado just threw me for a loop and clean up and dealing with insurance adjusters have also seriously eaten in my time.

I'm trying to get back on schedule. You know you can't get rid of me, sweetie!

Margay said...

Hey, Kendra, sometimes you just need to get a little does of Perez. And who says it's procrastinating? It's, uh, research...hey, you never know where the next idea for your story might come from!

Margay

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

LOL, Margay, that is SO true! I have to be able to use the part of my brain (the LARGE part of my brain) that is a pop culture trivia wasteland for something!!

Marie Force said...

Thanks for the look into your writing life, Kendra. You make it look easy. I have to say that I'm jealous that writing is your job. I try to imagine the day when the big fat day job won't get most of my awake time attention but with a kiddo going to college in four years and the other one four years after that, not seeing any end in sight. So for now, writing takes a back seat to work and kid demands.

Cheryl Brooks said...

Hi Kendra,
I've had a lot of people say they wonder how I do it, too, and the simple truth is that I HAVE NO LIFE! Hang on to yours! I've ordered the new book. Should be here soon!

Cate Rowan said...

And they're such AMAZING sexy Scottish werewolf books, too! (I'm the lucky critique partner, heh heh.) I'm always impressed by your juggling skills, m'dear, but especially your writing ones!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Sharon Lathan at 12:16pm May 25 From Facebook:

It wouldn't allow me to post my comment, Kendra. But your blog was fantastic! You could have been talking about my life! Except for the sexy werewolf part. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Ah, Cate, you're so lucky! You get to see them being born and taking a life of their own.

Need another 'helper' Kendra? lolol!

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

Marie, it's me who's in awe of YOU! I wish I could be so productive...I have NO idea how you get so much done! I'll just back away doing the "I'm not worthy" bow, LOL...

Cheryl, you do too have a life! It's just a busy one! I know you give a lot to your nursing job, so I'm impressed that you still have so much to give to your books.

Cate, I must tell you all, is the most fabulous crit partner EVAH. And she's an amazing writer in her own right as well! Thanks, you...it's always a pleasure to have your eyes, and to get to feast my own eyes on your material.

Sia, you'll laugh, but I'm ridiculously shy about my writing, particularly in the early draft. They're not always born pretty, LOL!

Chelle Sandell said...

I'd definitely sign on as an eager beta reader:) It's nice to hear about another writer's chaotic life and to be encouraged that maybe we can do it one of these days!!

Love the blog, Sia!!

Sandy DeTaranto said...

Kendra,
Finally found my way over here. I can't wait to read about your sexy werewolves!

Sandy

Caroline said...

Kendra~~
I loved learning a little more about you and your road to publication. I find it fascenating that you accomplished your goal in only two years where it's taken most of us a lot longer!! Congrats on that!!

Your books sound wonderful and I will soon start the process of being reviewed. I'm dreading it!

Thanks for sharing,
~Caroline

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

Hi Chelle! Yes, I think it's a crazy, hectic thing to add into anybody's life, but we can ALL do it! Partly because writers are wonderfully insane anyway, LOL:-)

Hi Sandy! Thanks! I'm glad you found it despite Yahoo's hatred of me:-)

Hi Caroline! Yes, I was very, very lucky. I always try to remember that, and to stay grateful. It's been a dream come true in so many ways. I understand about the reviews...I dread it every time, but always for naught. I'm sure you'll be WONDERFUL!

Gina Ardito said...

You didn't tell them how you spend the summer caring for the lepers! Seriously, sounds like you do an awful lot of juggling. But I'm guessing that the more you make time for, the more time you seem to find.

Terrific insight into your life, Kendra. Thanks for the peek.

Sheila Deeth said...

What a fun interview. And Scottish werewolves too. Better look out for these.

Theresa Ragan said...

Great post, Kendra! Thanks for sharing your writing journey. You sound like a super busy girl! Keep up the good work!

Judi Fennell said...

I just LOVE when my worlds collide: my Wombat Sia, my fellow Casababe, Kendra, and my fellow RWAers Gina and Cate!

And Kendra, people tell me 4 years from joining to sale was quick - you win! :)

Anonymous said...

Sexy Scottish werewolves sounds intriguing. Do they speak Gaelic? Your tale of success gives me hope.

Thanks, Sia!

Helen said...

Hi Kendra

Loved the post your life sounds hectic and fun amd I am so glad your books have been published I have loved the three of them I am reading Wild Highland Magic now and only have about 30 pages to read I was reading in bed last night and had to put it down because I was so tired and I wanted to savour the end so here I am up at 5-30am on Tuesday morning so as I can finish it before I go to work.
I highly recomend this trilogy they are fantastic books with wonderful Heros and Heroines and lots of great characters they have kept me enthralled from start to finish. Well Done Kendra and thank you Sia for having Kendra visit today.
Have Fun
Helen

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kendra, insanity? Ah, that explains it. There are times I feel that way with my juggling act!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Judi, you're just surrounded Sweetie. Thanks for stopping by. I must get people around here to order in Sourcebooks, darn it! I have to order everyone of them I've read. Sheesh.

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

Gah, I posted a comment earlier and it disappeared! *sigh* Seriously, I wasn't kidding when I said technology hates me.

Anyway, Gina, didn't I mention my charity work? LOL, no, the short people who live here with me are demanding enough! And yes, I can ALWAYS find more that needs doing. Which, at this very moment, is laundry.

Sheila, I definitely had a LOT of fun with the Scottish werewolves! They're a combo of two of my favorite things, after all:-)

Hi Theresa! Yes, busy, but I think the writing helps center me. I tell myself this, anyway, when I'm considering tearing my hair out.

Judi, yeah, I only found out today that Sia was a Wombat too! I know two years is fast...but I didn't know how unusual that was when it happened, which is good, because I'm a complete spaz. Sometimes it's better I don't know how hard things are when I start them!

Anonymous (ooh, a mystery guest!), I'm glad my story gives you hope. If I can manage all this, anyone can! The werewolves don't speak Gaelic, but they do have pretty sexy brogues;-)

Hi Helen! Thank you SO much! You know how thrilled I am to have you as a reader, and I hope you loved the ending!

Sia, it's a good kind of insanity, LOL!

Caroline said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Kendra, about my up coming reviews. I will TRY to remember It when time comes...{{{shiver}}}

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kendra, Anonymous is Wombat Dana S. Apparently techie things aren't working right today.

I'm not at all techie. I learn as I go, but mostly I much prefer pushing the button and it works as it was intended. I prefer not knowing about all the inside workings of techie things, lol! Just keep it simple, push here and it does this...

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kendra, I want to thank you for the wonderful article and spending time with us Over Coffee!

When your Noturne is released there's a spot for you here. :-)

Oh and watch out when you walk into the kitchen, there appears to be a suspicious spot there--can't have you slipping on it. :-)

Dana Fredsti said...

Late to the party, but still got to read and enjoy the post! Thanks, as usual, Sia, for another lovely session of Over Coffee, and Kendra, I think sexy Scottish werewolves is a great selling point!