Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Kendra's Introduction

Good Morning!

I'm tickled to be here. Several writing friends have pressured me to blog over the years, but only Elisabeth managed to lure me to the dark side. (Her words!)

In October of 2004, I read an article in The Oregonian about NaNoWriMo and thought, "Huh. I can do that." I read tons of books; therefore, I should be able to write one. Right? So most evenings in November I shut myself in my husband's office and wrote a book on the computer we shared. I didn't make the 50K goal of NaNoWriMo, but I was hooked. I finished the book in a few months, bought a laptop, and started a second book. My husband asked when I'd earn some money.

I joined RWA and Rose City Romance Writers in summer 2005 and was stunned to learn I had an instant group of friends and supporters. These people loved to write and read as much as I did. And I was brushing shoulders with real authors. Normal people who had books sitting on shelves in bookstores. That was my goal. To read my name on a spine on a shelf at my local Borders.

My first conference was at Emerald City in Seattle that October. I'd done some querying with the first book and now was ready to pitch. I came home on cloud nine with requests for partials and an addiction to conferences. I loved the workshops, I loved the writers, and I loved socializing in the bar with these people who talked books nonstop. It was hard to come home. I sent off my partials, continued querying, and moaned as my rejections started to stack up. I started a file. Again my husband asked when I'd earn some money.

I do have a job. I've been a dental hygienist for twelve years working part time and raising my three daughters. I often tell people I'm a part time hygienist, part time writer, and full time mother. No, that's a lie. That's only a description in my head. I can count on one hand the number of people (outside of family) that I've told I write. And I didn't tell the family members. My mother did.

What a struggle to balance writing time and family. And house cleaning, grocery shopping, yard work, and laundry. My husband wanted to know when the big bucks would start rolling in. I showed him websites and articles that revealed what a majority of writers earn. His reply was something along the lines of "That works out to ten cents an hour. Or less."

I've been a voracious reader all my life. SMALL PIG is the first book I remember reading when I was in kindergarten. I can still see the cute pig rolling in the mud. After that it was Laura Ingalls, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden. I would read each book at least ten times and then I graduated to Stephen King, Danielle Steel, and Anne McCaffrey. I majored in Journalism at U of O, intending to go into advertising. I finished and discovered that entry level advertising agency jobs paid about the same as McDonalds. I didn't write for fourteen years. Instead I read and read and read. I loved to visit the used paperback shop and buy shopping bags full of dollar books. The thicker the book, the better. I was miffed when they raised the price to $1.50 a book.

Now I purchase stacks of books at Borders and Amazon. (Tax write-offs, honey!) I read it all. Historical, paranormal, thrillers, and a little sci-fi. Just a few of my favorite authors include Diana Gabaldon, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Tami Hoag, JR Ward, and James Rollins. New-to-me authors who have recently amazed me are Karen Rose and Sharon Sala. I've been ordering their backlists.

I write romantic suspense. I can't write a romance without including a pile of dead bodies and creating twisted villains. I'm in the editing stage of my fourth MS and plan to pitch it at Nationals this summer. I can't wait for San Francisco. This will be my first Nationals. I'm pumped to meet in person all the people I've met online. And I get to have breakfast with Brenda Novak and her editor which I won at her marvelous online auction for juvenile diabetes. I'm dragging Elisabeth to breakfast to fill those dreaded empty conversation moments when I get tongue tied in Brenda's vivacious presence.

Enough about me. I'm thrilled to join this blog and look forward to meeting everyone. Many of you I met on the beach retreat, but I still have several people to get to know. Introduce yourselves to me! What do you write or love to read?


Paty Jager said...

Hi Kendra!

We met at the beach retreat and again at Powell's- but here goes.
Paty Jager- Mother of four, grandmother of seven, wife of one. Caregiver to 35 cows, 12 hogs, 3 horses, 3 dogs.

I write contemporay and historical westerns. I enjoy the research and creating characters that goes into writing a book. I learned to read when my oldest brother was in first grade. When my mom helped him each night I sat alongside and learned the words faster than he did. And I was hooked! I read Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marguerite Henry, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. I graduataed to Phyliss Whitney and anything that was thick. That way the story lasted longer.

I started writing children's books when my childern were small. Then when I was told at a children's writing sorkshop I wrote to adult I wrote mysteries and after reading LaVyrle SPencer I was hooked on historical westerns. And I've devoted my writing to that genre. I read anything but sci-fi and creepy, gory, scary.

I joined RWA in 1998, found this chapter and loved the friendship and meeting people who thought the way I did. I've beent eh VP and Pres of this group and now am interim Secretary.

I have four books published and am headed to Nationals this year as well.


Kendra said...

Thanks, Paty! I know I'll be seeing a lot of you at Nationals!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Really? I succeeded in dragging you to the dark side of blogging where others failed????? Wow. My powers far outreach my knowledge...

I LOVE this blog. Some of us have been together so long, I think we often forget where we came from and how we started. Thanks so much for opening it up for everyone to share. I love hearing about our bloggers all over again.

I started writing in Nov. 2002, after I quit my teaching job to stay home with my two kids. I flounded for six months, was sure I'd made the biggest mistake of my life and finally sat down at the computer to save my sanity. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids to distraction, but being "just" a stay-at-home-mom wasn't enough for me. I needed something that was all mine, utilized both the creative and analytical sides of my brain and made me feel whole again. Writing did that. I never intended to write for publication, but one thing led to another and here I am.

Like you, my books always include some form of murder and mayhem. There's always a dead body somewhere in my books, steamy romance and an emotional story. I love reunion stories - writing them is a different matter entirely - love paranormal elements and coming up with twists and turns readers (hopefully) don't see coming. But my one true love is adventure. Quest stories like Romancing the Stone, Indiana Jones, National Treasure...those are the movies that inspire me. After writing three lighter-variety RS's, I tried my hand at dark because that's what was selling. Loved the characters, loved the romance, loved the story, but at the end I felt slightly depressed. The darkness got to me. The solution? I wrote an adventure romance immediately after, and that book is the one that sold for me.

I firmly believe in writing what you love. It shines through your story. If you're excited about it, readers will pick up on that. I recently finished a paranormal suspense, which my agent is getting ready to shop. It's a little different from my contemporary adventure books, but still with the same elements I love - murder & mayhem, a steamy romance and a quest (though of a slightly different variety than my adventures). I'm hopeful it will sell, but I know this is a long process. In the meantime I'll go on writing what I love - in whatever form it strikes me.

So glad you joined us, Kendra!! Welcome!!

Karen Duvall said...

Welcome, Kendra! Your intro to writing is pretty similar to mine, especially the part about conferences. I've been a conference junky for 15 years. Ha! Even though I wasn't always writing, I was constantly absorbing everything I could from published authors, editors and agents. I also had 3 little ones to raise, and a full time job, so writing took a backseat 90% of the time.

I've written 5 books and one novella, and got halfway through 3 others before setting them aside. 2 of my completed novels are published, the first in 2000, and the second in 2006. Though I don't write romance, I do write romantic subplots. I think a book is very, very bland without a bit of love to spice it up.

Everything I write has something paranormal about it. My first published book is a supernatural thriller (Project Resurrection), and the second is romantic suspense (heavy on the suspense) where the cult involved has a supernatural bent. I can't help it! I have to write creepy stuff or I'll explode!

Now I'm committed to achieving the bigger contract, and I've decided not to settle for anything less than my goal. A book that doesn't sell to a big publisher is a book that gets trunked, and then I'll be on to the next project, rinse and repeat. Urban Fantasy is my chosen genre and I'm sticking to it.

Now I have the agent I've been longing for, and the book that's going to help me get where I want to be. I feel like I've gone through a huge growth spurt in the last few months (I'd hardly written a word since moving to Oregon 4 years ago). Desert Guardian, my second published book, was originally written for Silhouette Intimate Moments before I moved from Colorado, but it got orphaned and dismissed by my editor's replacement. Aaargh! Lots of set-backs over the past 15 years, but things are looking up again at last!

Good luck to you, Kendra! You've got a lot of supportive friends here at MWVRWA to turn to whenever you need us. This is a great group!

Alice Sharpe said...

Kendra, again, welcome to the group. It doesn't surprise me that Eli talked you into blogging -- she talked me into Dallas last year for Nationals after I SWORE I was never going back to Dallas the last time I was there. Nothing against Dallas, just been there and done that. The flip-side is she and Lisa made the trip a hoot, so all is not lost, you'll love blogging!!!

I enjoyed getting to know more about you. Your writing journey began where mine -- and probably everyone else's began -- by reading. The first time I wrote a story and used plot or dialogue elements I'd seen in countless books over the years I felt as if I'd entered a secret society. Imagine. I could dream up a character and send her up a flight of stairs or into a tailspin over unrequited love or over a cliff. What power. It's enough to make a person giddy...

Anyway. I, too, write romantic suspense though I've written several romances, as well. Nowadays, a story idea doesn't come to me that doesn't include murder and mayhem. I see where Eli mentioned writing a darker RS and how it depressed her. I don't know if mine are dark or not, I suspect they have their moments, but as long as the main characters live through the adventure I'm okay with it. Lately I've been thinking more about rounded characters with interesting arcs ... about time as I am currently working on books 37-39.

I won't be going to Nationals this year, but I used to adore all the workshops. The first conference I attended was in New York and I went to a workshop during every hour one was offered. It was exhausting but I was like a sponge and I loved it. Nowadays, I use the conference more for social and networking opportunities and if I think too closely about not going this year it makes me sad so I am purposely changing the subject. So there.

Welcome, welcome. Karen is right. This is a great group that will cover your back while you slog through the jungle of becoming published. We celebrate each other's successes and commiserate over issues. Best of all, we all understand what it's like to live half your life inside your head with invisible people.

wavybrains said...

Hi Kendra!

I'm Bethany. If you will be at June's meeting, I have some of Karen Rose and Sharon Sala's backlist. I'll bring them to see if you've read them.

I write YA and romantic comedy. Or at least I try to. I might have something dark and twisty in me someday, but more than likely it's just sexy and funny with dark glasses :)

I read very widely. My favorite authors include: Lori Foster, Jennifer Crusie, Suzanne Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Weiner, Suzanne Brockmann, Allison Brennan, Meg Cabot, Christina Skye, Liz Carlye, Sabrina Jefferies . . . . . .

I've been in RWA since 2005 ish. I went to Reno. I've got 3 completed MS, and a bunch of false starts :) I'm also a big fan of NaNoWriMo!

Welcome! How old are your kids?

Kendra said...

Elisabeth, I know that para is going to sell. I loved it.

Karen, creepy is good! I hope your agent gets you a major deal.

Alice! You're approaching 40 books? Holy cow. That's amazing.

Hi Bethany. I won't be at June's meeting because my hubby works too late for me to hand off the kids. Thanks for the offer of the books! That's very generous. I'm going to try to get to the July meeting if Alice is covering pitches. My girls are 6,8 and 10. What is your baby's name? I've read Tavy previously, but didn't know if that was true.

Lisa Pulliam said...

Welcome, Kendra!! I'm so glad you joined the chapter (finally) and started blogging (finally) :p. Great post! I love hearing about how people began their writing careers. You have a lot to juggle! Oy!

My writing and reading tastes have evolved. When I first started reading (and writing) romance, it was all paranormal - all the time. I hit it hard. I was devouring the genre. But over the past year, six months especially, I find myself craving contemporaries over paranormal. I'm even writing a contemporary. But I do love both.

Genene Valleau said...

Welcome, Kendra! Once again, I'm so delighted Eli lured you to our chapter and blog.

I also belong to Rose City Romance Writers as well as Eastside RWA in Bellevue, Washington. I love the people in my chapters and find something unique in each of them.

Parts of my writing journey echo yours -- love to read, thought I could write a book/learned it wasn't so easy, was amazed at how supportive romance writers are, became a conference/workshop junkie for a while.

However, I haven't tried NaNoWriMo -- I write kinda slowly and 50,000 words in a month is pretty intimidating for me. However, I'm now plotting a series of nine related books with ideas bubbling like crazy, so it will be interesting to see how quickly they come together when I get to the actual writing time.

I "retired" about five years after working for the state of Oregon for 31+ years. Unlike many writers who can't wait to quit their day jobs, I loved my job in graphic and Web design, and set up my own business doing that. Those skills are a wonderful compliment to the business side of writing, as I've designed the covers for my first three books, set up my own Web site, and do my own promotional materials.

I started writing seriously about 1992 when I joined RWA, had several crisis times when I wondered what the heck I was doing, and had actually decided to set writing aside before Chris Young of our chapter convinced me to submit to Awe-Struck. That manuscript sold (fourteen years after I started writing it) and my writing journey took another sudden turn. In addition to that April 2008 release, I'm contracted with Awe-Struck E-Books for two more books; one to be released in December 2008 and the third in late February 2009. All of these contemporary stories are what I call romantic adventure. I write about everyday people who have triumphed over traumatic events to become the heroes and heroines of their own lives.

Writing still shares my life with other passions: Web and graphic design, doggies, and Reiki energy healing, which fuels this entire grand adventure we call life.

Thanks for asking about our backgrounds. Like Eli, I'm enjoying a "refresher" about our bloggers. It's like a "remember when" session with treasured friends you haven't seen for awhile. It's wonderful to have you join us!

wavybrains said...

I won't be at July's meeting b/c I'll be teaching that Tuesday.

Tavy--Octavia is 8 months.

Lori Barber said...

Hi Kendra,

I'm Lori. I slither out from my rock now and then. Our internet has been down since Friday so right now I'm wading through emails.

I have a fabulous husband and two wonderful sons. Our oldest son and daughter-in-law are expecting a baby any day. Our first grandchild! Our youngest is in Sweden waiting to clutch his bachelor's degree.

I've written a western historical, two mainstream, a murder mystery, and a non-fiction, all near the finish line but not finished. Do you see a theme here? I write with inspirational tones and a touch of humor.

I can't say I read every book I could get my hands on as I grew up. The opposite holds more truth. I remember one particular childhood summer our library sponsored a reading program. For each book you read you got to place a paper scoop of ice cream on your poster cone. After ten scoops you got an ice cream cone. The librarian narrowed her eyes and said, "Next time choose a book more in line with your age group." I liked the Dick and Jane book even if I was in the third grade.

I got serious about writing after I wrote a humor piece about proper tea etiquette for the ladies of my church. The getup I wear when I read the piece sets the humorous mood in motion.

I love to read inspirational authors like Karen Kinsbury and Janette Oake. I also love the humor in mainstream books by Charlene Ann Baumbich and Ann B. Ross.

I joined RWA 6 years ago. I've learned so much and still have much to learn. This is a great group who share their hearts and love for writing.

Welcome aboard!

Kendra said...

Hi Lisa! Nice to see you again. I know what you mean about needing to read certain genres. I need a historical fix about every six months. I have a lot to juggle? You are the juggling queen.

Bethany, I love the name Octavia. It's so old-fashioned and sweet. One of my girls' name is Amelia which I love for the same reason. I'm glad 'Tavy' was for real. It's a darling nickname. My Amelia is often called Mia.

Hi Genene. I've seen your past comments about a nine book series. I'm usually reading them with my jaw hanging open. I can't think that far ahead. 14 years to sell a MS? There's hope for me yet. :)

Thanks for commenting, Lori. At first I thought you were going to say a real scoop per book. I would have gained weight that summer. I've caught my ten-year-old reading her littlest sister's books. A good story is a good story even if it takes two minutes to read. Even though I've only read this blog for a few months, I could spot your voice early on. Very lyrical and elegant.