Monday, June 8, 2009

Following Your Heart

I was fortunate to be able to have Kathryne Kennedy stop by for a chat about writing. She’s an author who really appreciates her readers and I love her recommendations to aspiring authors and published authors.

Kathryne touches or writing not what you know but what you want to know and the importance of following your heart when you write. Jealousy and negativity are so destructive to our creative spirit and she gives some good advice on how to deal with those emotions.

I struggled with what to write for this blog entry. If I sat down and was talking with a friend over coffee, or in my case, tea, it would depend on if I were talking to a reader or a writer. To a reader, I would talk about how much I love to build worlds, how I manage to take the eras that I love in history--Georgian, Regency, Victorian--and change them to magical, enchanting places. I would talk about my latest book, how the hero and heroine were so perfect for each other, but had to find that out for themselves. My friend and I would laugh about some of my characters: the were-snake Sarah and her tendency to shed. The were-penguin butler. The were-duck footman. And we would sigh with longing that in some alternate universe my heroes really would exist.

Now to an aspiring writer, I would give some advice on writing that I wish someone would have given me before I started. To write what truly interests you, not necessarily what you know. I had heard long ago that for a writer to produce a great book, they should write what they know. That made me scratch my head. Fiction is pretend…how can I know what a were-lion would act like? How can I know what historical England is like when I’ve never been there? I think a better way to put it would be, write what you want to know. That’s what research is for. And that’s what your imagination is for. And following your own heart will produce a great book.

To a really good friend who has just sold their first book, I would give some advice on what I’ve learned about being an author to help them through their own journey. You might have written a wonderful book, but if no one knows about it, it won’t matter. Think of all the authors you’ve stumbled across, and thought, wow, this is wonderful! How come I’ve never heard of this author before? So market your book. Do whatever you’re comfortable with, whether it’s social networking, guest blogging, or sending bookmarks to booksellers. But do something to get your name out there. And first and foremost, get a website.

And I would caution a dear friend to develop a thick skin. I know your book is fabulous…but you can’t please everyone. What one person will love about your book, another may not. Does that mean you should change the way you write? Does that mean that you should listen when someone says they didn’t like some element about your book? Absolutely not. Remember to write what you love, and fans will follow. The important thing is that you are receiving an emotional response to your work. And then go look at the reviews for some of your favorite author’s books on Amazon.

And then I would caution my friend about something I’ve noticed writers doing that they may not even be aware of. Do not to be jealous of another writer’s success. When a friend tells you about some milestone for them--a new contract, perhaps a starred review--be happy for them. Every writer’s journey is different, and your successes will be different. Don’t belittle another author’s accomplishments, because when you achieve your own personal milestone, there’s nothing better than having good friends to celebrate it with.

And along those same lines, steer clear of negative people. It might even be a member of your own family. Self-doubt may be one of the hardest things a writer has to overcome, and you don’t need someone pushing bad vibes at you. Find people who make you feel good when you interact with them. Good about yourself. Good about your writing. And develop that relationship. Your muse will thank you.

To a reader or a writer, I would finish with a big hug. Either would be someone I would cherish.
"I'm going into surgery on Tuesday, and I will be non-functioning (it's major surgery on my neck) for two weeks after that. I would be happy to give away an autographed copy of a book from the Relics of Merlin series to one lucky commenter."

Kathryne Kennedy is a multi-published, award winning author of magical romances. She’s lived in Guam, Okinawa, and several states in the U.S., and currently lives in Arizona with her wonderful family—which includes two very tiny Chihuahuas. She welcomes readers to visit her website where she has ongoing contests at:
The RELICS OF MERLIN series from Dorchester Publishing:"Simply delightful!"~Publishers Weekly


~Sia McKye~ said...

Please give a warm welcome to Kathryne.

I'm so glad you were able to stop by and chat with us today. I have a fresh pot of tea and some scones and muffins, warm from the oven.

Coffee is on for who ever wants some. :-)

And Kathryne, I have some little treats for those darling Chihuahuas. They'll love them. My Great Dane's treats are as big as your little ones, lol!

Houston A.W. Knight said...

Sia! This is an awesome blog with Kathryne, and she was saying exactly what I needed to know right now! Thank you both for the words of wisdom!

Big hugs back to you both!

Theresa N. said...

Your pointers on writing are excellent. Writting what you "like" does sound like a better idea.
Theresa N

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Thank you for the warm welcome, Sia. Goodness, your dog's paw is probably bigger than my little chi's whole body. :} They would valiantly try to haul off the treats, though!
And hugs to you, Hawk!
I'm glad they made sense to you, Theresa. And I do hope it helps my fellow writers.

Jamie Chapman said...

I'll have tea as well, Sia. I'm actually slurping down... I mean daintily sipping with pinkie extended... my morning cup of tea as I type this.

"Write what you like." "Write what you want to know." Both wonderful pearls of advice. I'll take them to heart. I've been doing that all along, but didn't recognize it until I read your words. Thanks for the validation.

Were-ducks and were-penguins? That's hilarious!

I wish you a speedy recovery after your surgery. And offer you congratulations on your success as an author.

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Thank you so much, Jamie! Your good wishes are greatly appreciated.
Oh, and yes, I have lots of fun with my magical world and the characters it allows me to create. :}
I know that validation can sometimes help in this challenging (and so very rewarding) business. I'm very glad I could provide it.

Anonymous said...

"The important thing is that you are receiving an emotional response to your work".Because as a reader, those emotions stay with yyou long after reading the book.

I enjoyed the article,
keep laughting at yourself

sia, it a very good blog (sister) good job!!!

~Sia McKye~ said...


I remember when I first started writing seriously and received my first serious critique--it was a good one and encouraging, from a fellow writer who is published. I was amazed how many 'mistakes' I had made though.

After that, I got all caught up in writing 'perfectly'--too aware of all the rules and whatnot and lost that emotional connection. I knew something was wrong but couldn't figure out what. An author who is a crit partner and a good friend, read it and said, "What the hell is this? It's technically correct but flat." We talked about it, my intent, the story premise, etc. She told me, "the premise as you've told it to me has more excitment and emotion than what you showed me on paper. You're getting all caught up with the 'rules', forget the rules right now and write from the heart."

I now have a sign over my desk which says, "Write from your heart."

So your whole article resonated with me.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hawk, you're such a sweetheart. I have some wonderful guests and Kathryne's article is one which is warm and caring and I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. :-)

I love hugs--both to give and recieve, lol! Right back atcha!

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Thanks, CC.
I'm so glad to hear that it resonated with you, Sia. And I know sometimes it's hard to balance learning the rules and keeping the heart. Critique partners like yours are worth their weight in gold. :}

Kat Sheridan said...

Hello, Kathryne, and what a wonderful article! I'm both a reader and an aspiring writer, so your words really resonated with me. I'm writing what I like (gothic romance in the tradition of Jane Eyre, with not a ghosty or ghouly in sight), whether or not that's what the market wants. It makes me happy, and gives me the excuse to go wandering about researching what interests me.

Having a trusted friend tell you the truth about your work is also invaluable, and I'm so fortunate to have friends, such as Sia, who will do that!

Good luck with the surgery, and Sia, once again, a stellar guest. Now, I do believe I have time for another cup of coffee. Any French roast?

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Hi Kat, so great to meet you! It sounds like you already have a positive influence in your writing. I predict you will be wildly successfull...and happy.
My best!

dawn2454 said...

Hi Kathryne, Thanks for an amazing article on the different areas of writing. It interests me in many ways, as a reader and as a possible writer. Some very helpful advice.

I've really enjoyed reading your first two books and am just waiting now for your newest book, Enchanting the Beast to arrive at my local book store where I ordered it from .

I love dogs, and would love to see you put up a picture of your two little Chihuahuas. I bet they are absolutely adorable.

So sorry to hear that you are facing major surgery on your neck. All my thoughts and prayers are with you, and with the doctors who will be performing the surgery tomorrow.Trusting they will have a steady hand, and that all your caregivers will work together in helping you recover quickly.

Take care of yourself and get all the rest you need, so you can get back to your life, and be pain free.
Sending warm gentle hugs,

Vivian A said...

Kathryn I too will echo the "write what you want to know" chorus. Trying to gauge what others want often means what you want is ignored, the end result is something stale or half-hearted. Excellent advice! Honestly, it can not be said too often. Thank you.

Sia I love your guests. The helpful advice, levity, and genuine discourse is a pure pleasure.

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Hi Donna! I'm so very glad you found the article helpful. And it's so great to hear that you enjoy my books. Thank you for the good wishes on my surgery, it means a lot to me, and as soon as I'm recovered, I'll post some pics of my girls on my blog. They are adorable. :} It was wonderful of you to stop by today and leave me such a lovely comment. I wish you all my best!
Hi too, Vivian! It's great to hear from you, and it's my absolute pleasure.

jrafferty said...

Kathryn, thanks for your advice to aspiring writers. "Write what you want to know" makes loads of sense to me and lines up with my goal to write books that I'd like to read. Best wishes for a quick recovery from your surgery.

James Rafferty

Liz L. said...

Kathryn, great advice for old and new writers. If everyone writes only what they know, who writes the vampire and werewolf novels? I love the idea of writing what you want to know.

Can't wait to read the series.

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Thank you so much, James.
And Liz, you too.
Sometimes I think it's just good to hear that you are on the right path. :}
My best wishes to you both.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kathryne, my sis (CC above) and I just got back from town and I dropped off some bookmarks for another friend of mine and we bought Enchanting The Beast. Carolie said, oooh, it draws you right in the first few paragraphs. I told her, hurry up and read it 'cause I want to.

She also mentioned, how do you mangage not to go broke when you have so many good authors on your blog with such great stories, lol! I told her I budget but I get the books I want to read.

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Oh, Sia, that's awesome! So great to hear, and you'll have to let me know if you both enjoy it. I spend a good chunk of money on books as well. :} But when I leave that bookstore I'm feeling much richer than the money I spent. Er, hope that makes sense. :}

~Sia McKye~ said...

Makes perfect sense, Kathryne! :--) Books always enrich.

Minna said...

Great post!

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Ah, Sia, good. :}
Thanks, Minna!

Anonymous said...

I love the way you break down your suggestions into the different categories because it reminds us of all of the different "hats" we wear for our different roles. Thank you for the inspirational words and good luck with your surgery, we will all send good thoughts your way.

E.L. Felder

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

That's a great analogy, E.L. I once referred to writers as being jugglers, because we have to pull so many elements together when we write: dialogue, introspection, plot, sentence structure, grammar, senses, characterization, theme, mood, description, world...shew. Now I'll visualize us all wearing different hats as well. :}
Thank you so much for the good thoughts.

Sheila Deeth said...

Thank you for the coffee Sia, and thank you Kathryne for the chance to sit and listen to you - wearing my readers' and my wannabe writers' hats - while drinking it. Hope the surgery goes well.

Houston A.W. Knight said...


Dottie asked me to send her prays and thought to you and yours...hope all is better today...Oh BTW, Dottie didn't want you to miss out on the contest and made you a hero and heroine ... so, you're in the running to still win Carol's book!

True friends do stuff like that for each know what I mean?

Irish hugs from the heart to you my dearest friend

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Sheila, It's been my pleasure. Thank you for the good wishes.:}

Laska Leopoldo said...

Good luck with the surgery. My son (who is 4 months old) also says good luck !

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Aww. That's so sweet, Laska. :} Thanks a million.

aries18 said...

Kathryne, I enjoyed your post enormously! As a reader, a writer and as a friend, (strangers are friends you havent' met yet.) I took each thing into my heart. I haven't heard of you or your books and they sound terrific. So you will be appearing on my TBR shelf. I wish you much success on your upcoming surgery and a speedy recovery.

Sia, another terrific guest! You have a knack for giving up inspirational and informative guests. Thank you!

~Sia McKye~ said...

It's my pleasure Wanda. I loved Kathryne's words of wisdom too. From what I've read so far--my sis and I have been fighting over who gets to read it first, lolol!--you will really enjoy this book, Enchanting the Beast. Now I have to go find the first in the series. They had the second, but not the first, sigh...

~Sia McKye~ said...

Awwww, Hawk, how sweet of Dottie. Dan is better after his job accident. Vision is clearing up, still sore, but he went to the doctor today and is looking better. :-) I'll try to stop over and thank Dottie too!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kathryne, I had surgery in April. It's no fun and recovery is no fun, but the pain does go be replaced by PT pain, lol! Sending you healing vibes...

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you for stopping by Kathryne and chatting with us. Appreciated all the wonderful advice and encouragement.

I'll pick a winner tomorrow and send it on to you. Meanwhile, rest and recuperate so we can get some more great stories.

Take care of yourself!

Ps, here's a few more treats for the babies. I don't want them to feel left out.

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Hi Wanda! I love your definition of strangers. :} And thank you kindly for your good wishes.

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Thank you so very much for having me here. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and making new friends. You are a gracious hostess, keeping the coffee & treats coming!
It was my absolute pleasure to visit.

Houston A.W. Knight said...


You've got a lot of friends you don't know you have...Cecile Just offered to make you a hero as well and sents her thoughts too! You'll see her comments on my blog.

You are loved dearly.

Kathryne...I love your hair, it's the hair we all describe for our heroines...YOU'VE GOT HEROINE HAIR!!! Did you know that?
I can only wish I had hair like that!

:-( Hawk

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you Hawk, I'm touched.

Houston A.W. Knight said...

I may be far away, Sia, but I'm there in thought.

Cyber hugs

Houston A.W. Knight said...

Can I laugh and cry with you? If yes...then it's o.k.! Friends do thing together...whatever that might be, right?

Hugs and Love