Friday, December 17, 2010

Guest - Krissee VanderWerff

Today I have Krissee VanderWerff with us at the Mysteries and Margaritas blog. Krissee is new to the industry and will be giving us her insight on how she is approaching her career.

Mary: First, Krissee, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Your background?

Krissee:  As a teenager I spent my summer months blowing through romance novels. I had big dreams about writing a novel of my own, but when college hit I lost my confidence under the weight of financial debt and security. I decided to try for something I knew I could do—first nursing, then computers. I landed a great job right out of the gate, but now with home life a little more secure I can finally take a chance at my dreams. So I write whenever I have spare time. Sneaking away during lunch break, I stay up late after the kids go to bed, and when they nap on the weekends. It only amounts to a few hours a day, but every little bit adds up, right?

Mary: What genre do you write? Why?

Krissee:  Romance is in my blood, and I look to that first. Those great relationship stories that triumph with happy endings will always have a place my writing. I loved Paranormal though, ever since I picked up my first Anne Rice.  But instead of writing vampires, I like the challenge of creating new creatures all my own.

Mary: What is the one thing, when you meet a successful author you ask them? Or what would you like to as someone if you met them?

Krissee: The first thought that runs through my head is “Oh, good you’re normal. A human!” Then I can get my tongue working long enough to ask them how they did it. How they made that first big step. I’ve heard so many stories about authors that were so close to failure, yet hung in there just a few seconds longer and sold! We never know just how close we might be and that always gives me inspiration.

Mary: As an unpublished author, what are your goals for the future? Do you have a business plan?

I want to make enough money with my own words to rival my current income. I want the ability to write full time. This year I’m working to finish two manuscripts. I might someday go as high as four, but I don’t think even my own children would recognize me if that happened. All frazzled and crazy-eyed. I want to have fun too, and never forget the reason why I love to write. That’s why I started my blog. –to give praise to all the awesome moments we find in life and literature.
I haven’t built a website yet though. I’m a little neurotic when it comes to pen names. I can never decide on just one.

I know you’re a member of Romance Writers of America, are you a member of any other writing organization? Do you find them helpful in your pursuit of your career?

Krissee: I’ve been a bit of a writing group slut over the past year, always trying to find other sources I can glean information from. There’s always something new to learn no matter where I aim, but the URWA has been my most valuable resource.

Mary: Do you have your families support? How about your friends?

Krissee: My seven-year-old has been a major source of inspiration over the last year, always wandering around the house with a pad of paper and a pencil. writing little stories in her diary or for her baby sister. She makes me want to be a better writer and to not lose sight of my dream, because it’s her dream now too. She wants to become a writer like her mom, and I want to show her that the dream is possible. She shouldn’t have to settle for what she knows will get her by. I want to give her the courage to pursue her dream without the threat of failure.

Mary: What do you do for motivation when you feel as if you’ve hit a snag and want to give up?

Krissee: I try a number of things. I make a list of twenty possibilities, and usually have a good one to work with before I finish the list. I bounce ideas off my critique partners. I carry my laptop through the house, and sometimes I can find new inspiration in a different location.  I also listen to writing conference tapes on the way to work. By the way, Mary, you did a fabulous job moderating at RWA nationals in ‘09. 

Have you found the road to publication hard? What is the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you started out in this crazy industry?

Krissee: The most difficult part is the emotional ups and downs. I have pretty tough skin when it comes to critiques, but it’s the rejections that hurt the most. I wish someone would have told me how to take those rejections from the beginning—with a grain of salt. Not everyone will like your query, or your writing style, or even your story if you get that far. I worry about the number of first time writers that mass send their work out into the universe and give up at the first sign of defeat. This is a tough field to break in to, and I don’t think anyone gets in easy.

Thank you for joining us today, Krissee, it was nice to get to know you better!


Kari Lee Townsend said...

Great interview Mary and Krissee! Loved having you on the blog and you gave us some awesome tips I plan to try. Here's wishing you continued success and a happy holiday!

Liz Lipperman said...

Ditto on the good interview, you two. Krissee, I might add that a lot of rejections have nothing at all to do with your writing skills. Both an agent and a publisher have to have something they believe they can sell.

I've said this a million times, but here goes again. A lot of really talented authors out there will never be published because of this. I have a friend who consistently writes stores that are not marketable for one reason or another. It's a joke when we ask her - what have you written now that won't sell??

Take a good look at your story content and do the research. My agent preaches - knowledge is power- all the time. Find out what is selling and more importantly, what is not. then know your target audience. If you're writing straight romance, you might be writing for the category market. The good news is that genre is easier to break into than the single title market. The bad news is, you still have to write well and spark an interest from an editor.

Don't give up. Think of each rejection as a battle scar.

Good luck. Let us know WHEN you have good news, and thanks for blogging with us at M & M.

Anita Clenney said...

Hi Krissee. DON'T GIVE UP! The road to publication is such an emotional journey, but I think if you're writing because you love to write,and you empower yourself with market knowledge, as Liz said, you will find your place. Good luck!

Mary Martinez said...

Thanks Krissee! I'm sorry I'm just now getting here.

I Ditto what my M&M mates say, great answers and thank you again for agreeing to the interview!

Krissee, never, ever give up. Life throws lots of punches as does the publishing industry. Never let it get you.

Good luck!

Mary Martinez said...

PS.. You know how some sites say 4-6 weeks response time, if you've heard nothing after that time they're not interested?

I sent a query and partial to an agency in September and wrote it off as not interested. Today I received a read receipt saying they'd just opened it. So I am not giving up hope.

KrisseeV said...

Oh, thanks to everyone for the support. That's one great thing about authors. I may still be naive about this, but I haven't yet met an author who doesn't cheer for her fellow writers. That is so valuable considering the field we are trying to break into.
So many friends have asked me, "with all the queries, contests, and critiques, aren't you afraid of some one else stealing your ideas? Writing your book?"
It's not about that. We're all have our own voice. Our own versions and working together to boost eachother up is what makes us all both special and unique. That is what will push us to succeed even in the bleak moments.

Kerrigan Byrne said...

Yes Krissee, I'm really rooting for you here! I think you have the talent and the ambition to make it, and you inspire the rest of us. Great interview.
~Natalie Ainge
w/a Kerrigan Byrne

Lesli Muir Lytle said...

Very funny about your writing group slutiness. I thought I was the only one...

It seems to be working well so far.