Saturday, June 30, 2012
FEATURED AUTHOR: Kelli London
How did you start out your writing career?
My writing career…(Laughing), well, it seems as if I’ve always had one, even when I wasn’t published. I first began writing, rather, attempting to write in elementary school, while on a summertime punishment. Unable to go outside and play or talk on the phone, I began to entertain myself through characters, who, eventually, worked themselves into a full-length story because they had so much to say and so much life to give. I’ve been writing ever since, and I owe that to my Mom, who exacted that punishment!
What did you learn while writing this book?
Being a teenager isn’t easy. Better yet, being a teenage girl who’s relocated and trying to find herself can be two of the hardest feats a girl has to overcome. Women deal with a lot, teenage girls deal with just as much and, maybe, more. Friends, hormones, boys…a trio of unanswered, not yet figured out important parts of life dominate teenage existence and, as a woman, who once believed teenaged problems dissipated with my generation, I encountered a huge wake-up-that-still-exists-call that served as proof that teen life is tough. Today’s teenagers are much stronger than most people think. Teenagers aren’t nearly as confused as adults believe either; adults just can’t seem to figure out all that teens endure because in the process of reaching adulthood we forget, and that’s why adults and teens don’t speak the same language. One has lost fluency, and the other is mastering it.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
I want girls to know that no matter what walk of life they come from, no matter how they view themselves, whether negatively or positively, no matter how others view them, they are important—they are queens, not court. Their dreams are important and real and worth it, and so are they. I needed them to know that if the world viewed them as beautiful on the outside, they are equally beautiful within. And if the world’s vision was skewed and unable to recognize their outer beauty, they were and are still beautiful. Life isn’t what other’s think of us or what they call us. Life is what we answer to.
What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?
The story came first, then the plot, then the characters. The story was first because I wanted to write about something relevant to many girls. We’ve all dealt with maturing, physically and otherwise, of being in that weird in-between stage of becoming beautiful, but not quite making it yet. And we’ve all dealt with boys, the one’s we didn’t think we were good enough for or the ones we didn’t think good enough for us. Another reason I chose the story first was because I wanted to show there are two sides to pretty just as there are two sides to a hand, and most, if not all, girls fit into either category. On one side of the hand you have a girl who is physically attractive and seems to have it all. On the other side of the hand, you have a girl who hasn’t yet realized her beauty, and is worth more than she believes. The bottom line, no matter which side a girl relates to, it’s still the same hand, and all girls possess beauty, and that beauty starts within—it’s the pulse running through the hand. And the rest: boys, clothes, popularity, smarts, etc. are just life’s accessories that either make the hand look good or not, but can never change the hand from being a hand. In short, a girl will still be a girl—important and beautiful—and nothing can change that.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
That teens would really enjoy and relate to my stories. I love it when I get it right, and when they email and tell me they’ve somehow connected to a character or story. Knowing that something I’ve written has moved them in some positive way always awes me and makes me grateful.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love the actual writing of the first draft, then seeing it all come together, piece by piece, character by character. I’m not a big fan of edits. I’d rather do a rewrite than an edit, and, usually, that’s what I do. Drafts, I can do all day. Edits make me pause because I’m always afraid of breaking the momentum.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
That I could’ve done this years ago. I used to talk about writing all the time. I’m going to write a book one day. When I get the time, I’m going to sit down and start and finish a story. Next summer… I’m almost ashamed to admit I used to make every excuse about why I hadn’t written a full-length novel, but I did. The other two things are: 2.) Preparation and 3.) More preparation. Writing means honing and honing means writing. A writer can never study the craft enough, and to learn the craft, you have to relearn it, and that’s also a process that requires you to write, edit, then write again. It’s cyclical, and never stops.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Do talk to yourself, your characters, and listen to both, then write. Don’t listen to others who tell you how to write, what to write or when to write. Listen to your internal clock and voice because your story and your method is within, and only you can breathe life into it.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
Writing is a process—a seriously hard process that takes a lot of time, study, effort and delivery. Oftentimes, I’m approached about writing because everyone has a story, a great story, and their having a great story may, in fact, be true. However, I’m not the one who will advise them on how to write it, other than giving them the basic answer, which many don’t like because they’re looking for more. That basic answer is always the same: Write it. Just write it. Writing the story is the only way it’ll get written. However, I do offer another answer they need, and that is: You better write it because if you don’t, the story will never go away. It’ll just keep stalking you until you get it out. Characters need to be introduced and their stories need to be told, and only a writer can do that.
Tell us something few know about you?
I’m an education junkie. I love education. Schools. Libraries. Research. Anywhere you’d think to find a book on education, history, the craft of and study of writing, I’m bound to have been there or spend a lot of time there. However, I’m even more big on educating one’s self because people can only teach you what they’ve been taught. Therefore, the real teaching is behind the teacher of the teaching. The real learning is in the discovery of truth, not man’s or the history writers, which is equivalent to the winners of battles, etc., but the whole truth, which rarely lies on the surface or makes its way into textbooks.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Besides talking to my dog, Marlowe, I run, am an Ashtanga yoga junkie, and sing all the time. I like to have fun, celebrate life, and radiate good, positive things. I also like girly stuff: clothes, dressing up, lip-gloss, movies with happy endings, and long walks. Other than that, there is no spare time because I’m always thinking of new stories, new characters and new situations.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I mostly interact through email and social media.
Our theme for this month is INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS. Have you ever considered self publishing your work? Why or Why not?. If you are a independent publishers, can you offer some tips for taking this journey.
I think self-publishing is a great thing and know many who’ve done it, but I was fortunate enough to have a publisher publish my work, and that gives me more time to write.
Who was the first author you ever met?
I was fortunate to meet the great Maya Angelou, and it was simply amazing. She’s a wonderful person and speaker—an incredible woman who exerts positivity and makes one want to be better.
Oprah always asks, what do you know for sure?
I know that I do not know, but am always on a mission to learn. However, if I could know one thing without a doubt—okay, multiple things, they’d be: How to excel in happiness, love, and best-ness (Okay, it’s not technically a word you’ll find in a dictionary, but I like it! ☺). I think we focus so much on right and wrong, that sometimes we forget about what’s best. To me, what’s best is what makes the world better—what makes me better. If I’m better, then I can create better stories that will, hopefully, attribute to making my readers better.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
CHARLY’S EPIC FIASCOS
My name is Charly, I’m sixteen, and between my dream-killing mother and having to work part-time to help pay the bills, my life sucks. Big Time. But guess what? I’ve got a dream no one can kill, and I’ve been planning how to make it come true.
I had it all figured out: save money for a smartphone and finally get connected to the world beyond this Illinois dump I call home. Take online acting classes, send out headshots, and boom—get on a Reality TV show. But guess what? Ms. Dream Killer “borrowed” my hard-earned cash. She said “Well, you owe me for having you.” So I’m done. I’m outta here and on my way to New York. I’ve got an aunt there who works for a TV network. She told me to look her up, and the time is now. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get there—and between the most messed up travel plans you can imagine, and a bunch of broken promises, it’s clear that’s going to be a lot. But nothing will stop me, not even if the biggest challenge of all is waiting at my destination…
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
Facebook: Kelli London
Kassidy Maddox has everything—beauty, brains, and confidence to spare. Fresh off the New York A-list, she knows what she wants: Brent, Romero, and Carsen, three extremely fine, must-have boys. And she isn’t about to choose between them—until she meets Diggs. He’s a hot property—and he doesn’t like to share. Will Kassidy finally have to give up the spotlight?
Jacobi Swanson is a late bloomer with a major crush on two guys. There’s Shooby from the old neighborhood, the guy she can’t let go of, and seemingly, can’t have, and then there’s Malone, the guy next door who’s got a serious case of the perfects—perfectly popular, perfectly smart, and perfectly rich. Determined to break out of her shell and into the heart of the guy who’s right for her, Jacobi turns to Kassidy for beauty and boy tips. But when Jacobi finally captures the right one’s attention, she’ll have to figure out whether he’s for real—along with everything else in La-La Land…
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