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