Megan Kelly writes contemporary romances, both self-published and for Harlequin American Romance. She spends a lot of time with imaginary people in her head. Fortunately, she has a very supportive husband and two kids who don't remember a time when Mom didn't write, so a wandering mind seems almost normal in her house. She lives in the Midwest, where the weather has an imagination of its own. You can reach her through her website, http://www.megankellybooks.com/ or on FaceBook.
How did you start out your writing career?
I joined my local RWA chapter and absorbed all the advice I could. At my first writers' conference, I attended a group pitch where I barely breathed, let alone spoke. Afterward, the editor wrote down our names and said she expected something from each of us! So I sat down and wrote a book with my sister's critiques guiding me, then sent it in. -- I want to apologize to that editor for having to read it. No one should see a writer's first attempt. That was my learning book where I made every mistake possible.
What did you learn while writing this book?
SANTA DEAR, which was released in Dec 2011, was my first self-published book, after selling four Harlequin American Romances. It was also a book I wrote a long time ago but couldn't sell. It received great responses (good rejections, lol), got to the senior editor's desk, was sent by one editor to another who she thought the book fit better, and so on. No offers. But I believed in this story and wanted readers to have it. The self-pub learning curve is steep, even though I used a company to format and distribute it. I'm still learning about it.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
I wanted to touch readers' hearts. SANTA DEAR is about the widowed heroine learning to trust another man after raising her son alone for several years. My hope is readers will laugh and cry, and finish it wanting to read more stories I've written.
What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?
The characters always come first with me. I don't plot ahead. I let the characters take me through their experiences as I type. The widowed heroine showed up in my head first, distraught over her son's letter to Santa Claus. In it, he says he needs Santa to visit, to prove Santa's not a "just a story, like my dad." That hits the heroine hard. I typed that out and waited for Trish to tell me what she did next.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
After five books, I'm still finding out what routine works best. The two books I wrote by putting my head down and typing--finishing each in roughly six weeks after the proposal was accepted (meaning the first three chapters were done), including revising and polishing--were the two the editor barely had any revisions on. The two books I labored over for six months or more had 8 page revision letters from the editor. I want to believe if I "get out of my way" I write better books, but that's because binge-writing is easier for me.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love reader feedback and I hate doing promotion.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
DO keep learning. Keep reading widely. Keep attending workshops, even if it "just" validates what you do. Validation is almost as important as chocolate to a writer. DON'T quit. It took me thirteen years from starting that first book to getting THE CALL. I'd like to add a second DO that is just as important to me as learning: Give back. None of us got here alone.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
I'd like them to understand writers don't get paid for books pirated off the internet and the effect it can have on a career. If someone posts BOOKX for free and millions of people download it and love it, the publishing company still counts that as one sale. If the author self-published BOOKX, she gets one royalty payment (between thirty cents and two bucks in most cases). Having fans doesn't insure an author will receive another contract or earn enough money so she can write full-time. Pirating books hurts the author.
Tell us something few know about you.
I have a bad habit of saying things to make people laugh coupled with a very deadpan delivery. Even close friends and family take me seriously when they shouldn't. I seldom take myself seriously. Life is too short.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Read. Isn't that the typical answer from writers? I also knit and crochet (not well), but I prefer getting lost in someone else's imagination. I love to go to the movies.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I blog with Harlequin American Romance authors (http://harauthors.blogspot.com) and I'm on FaceBook every day. I answer emails and do in person book signings for my print books. I love readers.
This month we have two themes our first is Family Literacy. Do you do anything to promote family literacy?
My books are for adults. I'm not aware of any Family Literacy events in my area.
Our second theme is Local Authors, what are you doing locally to promote your books?
I have signings at local independent bookstores to bring in readers. I try to make sure the local newspapers are informed. I write articles for my local RWA chapter occasionally and am always available to help writers with questions if I can. Actually, I had two people approach me recently about helping beginning writers they knew. I love that. I believe helping others and making contact in a personal way does more to sell a book than anything else I can do locally.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
My family is my rock.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
I have a proposal with Harlequin American right now. It's not contracted, but hopefully it will be my next print book. In it, a reporter stuck in Features stumbles on a big story that will hurt the family of the guy she loves. What to do?
My next self-published story is a mystery with romantic and paranormal elements. You can see why it would be a hard sell to a traditional publisher. It would be difficult for a bookstore to shelve--is it mystery or romance or paranormal? (Yes.) Since the setting is a campground, I'll be putting it out this summer. I don't have excerpts up for these yet, but readers can go to my website for excerpts of my other five books.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
My website http://www.megankellybooks.com/ has a contact page. You can email me, become my friend on FaceBook or tweet at me on Twitter.
"Santa, My friends say you're just a story, like my dad."
Trish's heart aches when she reads the note from her five-year-old son. She needs a man, but only to play Santa for Tyler. Widowed several years earlier, she's not quite over the scars left by her dishonest husband. She isn't looking for a relationship, although having someone to rely on is tempting. So is Sam, but she's not going to fall for an unambitious man. Not again.
Sam doesn't want a relationship, either. Recently burned by his ex, who had her eye on the top of the corporate ladder, he's willing to let Trish think he's poor and out of work to keep her at arm's length. When she and her son invade his heart, there's this little misunderstanding in the way. He has to win her over, but can he help her bury the past?
When things look their gloomiest, it doesn't hurt to have Santa on your side.
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