Look out serial killers! There’s a new kid on the block and he knows what you’re thinking! Yesterday I posted a five star review for Mark Anderson Esquire’s Murder & Single Malt, a fascinating story inside the mind of a serial killer. A native of Ireland, I look forward to not only following his career path, but reading more of Mr. Esquire’s books.
Welcome to the Underground Author
Mark Anderson Esquire!
Kimberly: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Mr. Esquire: I am lucky to be fairly well traveled and have lived in several countries over the course of my life. The weird things I’ve seen and the weirder things I’ve read all go into my writing. At present I live in my native Ireland with my wife and our daughter. I do have a career but it’s far too dull to mention. Suffice to say that writing is an outlet for the craziness that I keep bottled up Monday to Friday, nine to five.
Kimberly: Is Murder & Single Malt your first novel?
Mr. Esquire: I have been writing regularly in one form or another since I was a teenager, although it’s only in the last five years that I’ve turned to fiction. Prior to M&SM there were some lesser novels that were mostly my attempts to learn and grow as a writer. They have been consigned to the Lost ’n’ Found box in the sky. May they rest in peace.
Kimberly: Murder & Single Malt is an amazing adventure inside the mind of a serial killer. Did you do a lot of research on serial murderers?
Mr. Esquire: Actually when I started thinking about M&SM I was fairly well read on serial killers. Crime stories, particularly grizzly ones, fascinated me as a younger man. I’ve been reading about Dahmer, Gacy and Gein since I was a teenager. I blame violent video games, personally.
Actually the topic that needed the most research was whiskey; I wanted the central character Mike to be fluent on the merits of different whiskeys and even to have firm opinions on the different distillation methods. So to give his character the depth it needed I ended up reading extensively on the topic of whiskey production. I also sampled some of the nicer examples.
Ken Coleman’s book is a deep psychological portrayal of three families torn apart when a l6-year-old girl shoots and murders one of her father’s best friends. In The Ripple Effect, Mr. Coleman also examines the ongoing question of when, or even if, a child should be tried in a court of law as an adult. I’ve invited Mr. Coleman to join us today to share a little about himself, his life and his projects. Welcome to the Underground, author Ken Coleman!
Kimberly: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Mr. Coleman: I am a native of Washington D.C., currently residing in North Carolina. My first novel, Memories Vision is a fictional story of Queenie Jones, the most famous, notorious and controversial black female entertainer of all time.
Kimberly: Where did your inspiration for The Ripple Effect come from?
Mr. Coleman: In Florida, a 14 year was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. That could be another 70 years. I asked myself, what do we do now? What do we do with this child for 70 years? What do we do with a child that commits murder?
Kimberly: It is apparent throughout your book you are a man of faith. Was this instilled in your childhood or did you build your faith later in life?
Mr. Coleman: My faith is a culmination of my life’s lessons. Faith is that which is not seen. In any adversity, faith becomes difficult to maintain. We try to understand, yet many things are beyond our understanding. Perhaps it is the death of a child that makes you become an advocate for a cure. Perhaps it is an incident to make you become an advocate for change. Everything happens for a reason. Nothing is by chance or coincidence. Faith is that which brings understanding to what we do not understand.
Look! It’s an editor . . . an author . . . no, a ghostwriter. Well, you’re right on all counts. Joe Bunting, creator of The Write Practice
, one of the top 10 blogs for writers, is a super man who wears many hats. My father used to say that if you want something done, go to the busiest person. I wanted to interview Joe Bunting, but thought he wouldn’t have time. Pleasantly surprised when Joe replied to my e-mail that, of course, he'd make the time, today Joe offers his words of wisdom and encouragement to emerging authors. Welcome to the Underground, Mr. Joe Bunting.Joe’s Mantra
So instead of trying to write well, write now
Let that be your mantra.
When you get blocked trying to write that perfect sentence:
Don't write well. Write now.
When you can't get the scene to work like you wanted:
Don't write well. Write now.
When the weight of your dreams of a perfection become a burden:
Don't write well. Write now.
Shen you're so tired you can't imagine writing well: Don't write well. Write now.Kimberly:
I enjoyed reading your mantra and the follow up message on The Write Practice
. How long did it take you to come up with your mantra and was there a moment in your life when you were ready to give up on writing? If so, can you tell us about that moment?Mr. Bunting:
Thanks Kimberly. That was one of those lucky creative moments that happen in an instant. I was actually talking to a friend about how depressed I was about my blog (depression over your creative accomplishments, or lack thereof, happens no matter how much success you’ve earned). I don’t remember how the phrase came up but I said, “I need to stop trying to write well and start writing now.” As soon as I said it, I thought, “Wow, that sounded nice.” My friend said, “That would make a good little blog post.”
Yes of course I’ve thought about giving up on writing. Writing is such a frustrating discouraging thing I think everyone fantasizes about abandoning it from time to time. When I was editing the first book I ghostwrote, I came to this place where I was so depressed. I sat on the floor, put my face to the ground, and thought, “I don’t want to write this book. In fact, I don’t want to be a writer anymore because I don’t ever want to feel this stupid again.” But I got up and wrote and three weeks later the book was done. You hit these dips, but if you can make it to the other side things will look a lot better.Kimberly: The Write Practice
is now one of the top 10 blogs for writers. How long did it take for you to build a following of 2700?Mr. Bunting:
The difficult part isn’t getting to 2700. The secret about building a blog is that the first 500 are the hardest. It takes six months of painful work without much encouragement to get 500 subscribers. After you pass 500, you can get to 1000 and beyond, but the first 500 can feel like a full- time job.Kimberly:
I know you are a ghost writer, a blogger, an editor and a writer. Do you have any formal education or did you learn on your own?Mr. Bunting:
Everyone teaches themselves how to write. You can learn a few things in school—I have a degree in English Literature—but in the end it’s up to you. I learned more by studying books—taking them apart sentence by sentence to see what each one did—than I did in school. The cool thing about writing is that everyone has access to the textbooks of the trade. Just go to your library and read really slow.Kimberly:
When did you publish your book 14 Prompts For Writers
and what kind of feedback have you had from your readers?
(The link to Mr. Bunting's book is listed below.)Mr. Bunting: 14 Prompts
was an attempt to do a book of prompts completely different than anything on the market, and I think people appreciated its uniqueness, even its vulnerability. It’s a very strange book of prompts, and people liked it because of that.Kimberly:
Do you make money from your blog? Or is it used more as a platform to introduce yourself to other writers?Mr. Bunting:
Platforms are valuable. Sometimes they make money but they are great for improving quality of life. I have so many more friends, friends who are passionate about the same things I am, because of my blog. We don’t make much money through The Write Practice
, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t add value to our lives.Kimberly:
What are your long term goals? Do you have a book in the making?Mr. Bunting:
I don’t have a book in the making, I have six! :)
My long term goal is to write things that add meaning to people’s lives. I’d like to write fiction and probably teach, but the great thing is that I’m living my long term goal right now. Most of the time we choose goals out of vanity, but it’s so much more fun to serve than to get a little fame and power.Kimberly:
What is the best form of advertising that helped your blog grow?Mr. Bunting:
Relationships. There are techniques you can use to get the most out of your relationships, but the heart of this game is to make friends and help them solve their problems.Kimberly:
What do you see as the biggest mistake an emerging author makes?Mr. Bunting:
When I edit people’s fiction or read submissions for our creative writing contest, what people struggle with most is telling rather than showing. Avoid telling your readers about your characters’ thoughts and emotions. Avoid backstory. Instead show us what they do and what they see. Kimberly:
What are your thoughts on self-publishing? Do you think it is wise to build a website for your book before it’s in print?Mr. Bunting:
Self-publishing isn’t a new fad. Ben Franklin, William Blake, Jane Austen, and Virginia Woolf all self-published. If someone (a “traditional” publisher) wants to help you publish your book, you should think about it, but if you’re reasonably smart, you can do the work yourself. Please hire an editor, though.
Should you build a website? Should you tap into the most efficient communication tool ever invented? Yes, that would probably be a good idea. Kimberly:
Are there any words of wisdom you can give to an emerging author? Mr. Bunting:
Be grateful for people like you, Kimberly, who want to help emerging authors. Be grateful to your readers. There’s more to read than ever before and no one has to read you. Be grateful if you make a little money at your passion. Most of the world doesn’t get to follow their dreams, and most of the world lives on less than what you’ll make as a part time artist. Be grateful because most people are a little bitter and run down. Being grateful will make you stand out. Visit The Write PracticeThe Write Practice on Facebook Joe Bunting on TwitterAuthor Joe Bunting's 14 Prompts: Practical Writing Prompts That Inspire
As with many of the authors I review, I have had the privilege of getting to know Terri Marie as a person. I find Ms. Marie down-to-earth, personable, wears her heart on her sleeve and unafraid to voice opinions, especially when it comes to being kind to your fellow man. Ms. Marie is on a mission; a mission to complete three novels in a series entitled The Ties That Bind. Running From Beige is the first in her trilogy.
Welcome to the Underground, Terri Marie!
Kimberly: Please share with us a bit of your background.
Ms. Marie: The most important thing about me is that I’m a mother to two wonderful children. Those who have experienced being a single parent understand both the rewards and the struggles involved. I’m proud that booth of my children attend college. For many years, I worked as a nurse and then began working and volunteering at non-profit facilities. I’ve stayed pretty busy and in my spare time (whenever that happened!) I wrote stories.
Kimberly: When did you start writing and is Running from Beige your first novel?
Ms. Marie: Being a single parent, money wasn’t plentiful. I couldn’t always afford to take my children places. The stories I would read to my children is how we traveled to fun destinations. When they were in grade school, I began to write a story. My goal was to have a family keepsake bound and give it to them when they were older. Before I knew it, all of the children in my life, including my nephews and a niece, ended up being a part of the book. Over two hundred pages later, my family encouraged me to get it published. Finding an agent was, to say the least, disheartening. My book sat on a shelf for almost twenty years when I came across the topic of self-publishing. In October of 2011, after many mistakes and attempts, The Shack, Merry and a Cat Named Cha-moan, a children’s action and adventure novel was published.
Running from Beige was my second novel and took three years to complete. I would start writing, come to painful parts and walk away. Sometimes I wouldn’t write for weeks or months. I relied heavily on the supportive words of my friends and family to move forward. Writing Running From Beige was one of the most difficult things I’ve accomplished.
Kimberly: What made you want to write a novel about abuse?
Ms. Marie: The abuse of women is pandemic. When I was fifteen, a gym teacher asked me about the bruises on my arms. I told him the truth; that my boyfriend hurt me. “Stop pissing him off,” was the teacher’s response. This seems to be the mentality of many in society. I was a victim of several forms of abuse in different relationships. I used to cringe when I heard a woman say, “Well, he doesn’t abuse me. I mean he would never hit me.” It’s important the public is educated. Until they are, women are going to continue to die from domestic abuse. Not just by their abuser’s hands, but by their own. If a woman is emotionally neglected, verbally beaten down to nothing, cheated on, etc., it sometimes leads to suicide. Even though Running from Beige was painful to write, it was my way of reaching out to as many women as possible.
I first came in contact with Patrice Fitzgerald when I reviewed her book, Running.
I began to follow this author via Facebook. Author, publisher, lawyer, mezzo soprano, I have met few who are able to match the energy level and creative talents of this up and coming writer and publisher.
The first time I interviewed Ms. Fitzgerald was when I reviewed her book. You can find the previous interview here
. Today my interview is with Ms. Fitgerald as CEO and founder of eFitzgerald publishing. Once again, I welcome Ms. Fitzgerald to the Underground.Kimberly:
You have a varied and unique background. Could you tell us about it?Ms. Fitzgerald:
I was a lawyer for fifteen years -- intellectual property law -- but always had a secret creative person inside trying to get out! I did freelance writing for magazines and online, and all the while I was writing novels and trying to get published. Kimberly:
How did you get started in the e publishing business? Ms. Fitzgerald:
I just finally decided to take my writing career into my own hands. Getting that first novel published, particularly since this is an election year, was critical. I couldn't wait any longer… and I didn't want to wait any longer, so I simply jumped in. And it's been thrilling ever since.Kimberly:
Can you take us through the process? If I sent my novel to eFitzgerald publishing, what would happen next?Ms. Fitzgerald:
First of all I should say that my publishing company, eFitzgerald, is booked up (ha! pun) for the rest of 2012. But when we get a new manuscript submitted, like any other publisher, we first read it to see if we think we can sell it. If the manuscript is accepted, it goes through at least two rounds of editing -- global, or "big picture" editing, for plot, characterization, conflict, or other issues that may need improvement, and then line-editing. During that process, we create a cover, in consultation with the author. Finally, we format the book for electronic publication, upload it, and voila… a new ebook is born! Kimberly:
What are the pitfalls of e-publishing?
When I ask an author if he would like to do an interview, we usually communicate via e-mails. This is when I have the opportunity to get to know the person, not just the writer. When I located Mr. Mixter on Facebook I was able to observe pictures of his ‘real life’ storybook. As I introduce Mr. Mixter to the Underground, there are two words that come to mind: loyal and humble. Mr. Mixter is humble, yet knows he has something important to share, has a deep understanding for what is right for himself, but allows others the same privilege, and is totally dedicated to his wife, family and friends. Welcome Randy Mixter.
Kimberly: Will you tell us a bit about your background?
Mr Mixter: I have been writing since I was a teenager. I have had my poetry and other writings published locally. I have also written articles for a local paper and have won an award for creative writing. My first published book consisted of short stories about growing up in Baltimore City in the 1960s, titled The Boys of Northwood. My second novel, Sarah Of The Moon, is a fictional love story, with a touch of mystery, that takes place in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love. I recently completed and published Letters From Long Binh: Memoirs of a Military Policeman in Vietnam. That book is based on the letters I wrote home to my wife during a 1967 tour of duty in Vietnam. My short story, Eternal, will be published this spring by Sleeping Cat Books in the book anthology, The Storm Is Coming.
Since my retirement from a security position with local government, I have been able to devote more time to my wife, five cats and, of course, my writing.
Kimberly: How did your novel Sarah Of The Moon happen to evolve? Was it inspired by a true story? There are a lot of factual details, so if your novel is not based on what you personally experienced, how did you do your research?
Mr. Mixter: Several years ago I wrote a prologue and a epilogue to a book I called Sarah Of The Moon. The handwritten papers went into a desk drawer. In the autumn of 2010 I was recovering from heart surgery. I had just published my first book, The Boys Of Northwood, and thought this to be the perfect time to revisit Sarah. I began to write without any plot outline. I knew the beginning and the ending, but that was all. Luckily as I developed my characters the story came to me, a chapter at a time. Many readers have asked me if I've ever been to San Francisco. I have not. During the 1967 summer of love, I was military policeman in Vietnam. I researched the time and the place, then allowed my imagination to fill in the blanks.
Kimberly: As I read your novel, the one thing that kept coming back to me was how uninformed people were about the “Hippy” movement. Yes, there were those who were a part of it because they were into drugs more than cause, however the premise of the movement was heartfelt. Do you feel the movement had an impact on the future? How?
Mr. Mixter: I have always been fascinated with the so-called 'Hippie' culture and the music that came from it. I believe that shows throughout the book. I wanted to write a story that focused on their lifestyle and would hopefully depict these free spirits as more than druggies. I personally feel the majority of those young people believed in the tenants of peace and love and were trying to change the world for the better. It was also important to me that my three main characters, Sarah, Alex, and Matt were drug free throughout most of the novel. Although drugs played a significant role in the culture, I wanted my main characters to be enlightened without the use of drugs. In my book, I separated the true hippie from his weekend counterpart. It's significant to note the difference between the two factions in that the first group wanted to make change and the second just wanted to get high.
I would like to think the peace protests of the 1970's, which in some ways helped to end the war in Vietnam, and the protests of today can be traced back to the hippies of the '60s, and, of course, the summer of love. I also believe the movement was instrumental in passing anti-racism laws in the late 1960s and 1970s and undoubtedly was responsible for generating an interest in environmental concerns such as clean air and water, organic farming, and recycling.
A couple of weeks ago, I sent my baby to the doctor. Okay, not a human baby . . . but still an embryo that grew inside my imagination and came out a novel. I knew it was time to let go, to see what I needed to give my ‘baby’ wings. Where do you go for a professional diagnosis of your novel or short story? Ann Garvin
, author of On Maggie’s Watch,
had the answer and recommended Catherine Adams, a well-known and successful developmental editor. After researching Ms. Adam’s background, I gathered my courage, drew in a deep breath and pushed the ‘send’ button, letting my ‘baby’ travel into the professional hands of Ms. Catherine Adams. It was a very wise decision. Today, I have the privilege of introducing Ms. Adam’s to the Underground. Kimberly:
Catherine, you are a developmental editor and book mentor. What does that mean? Ms. Adams:
“Developmental editor” isn’t used much in writers’ lingo anymore. The term is a carry-over from the old days of publishing when an editor could see a writer’s potential and devote time and resources to develop that writer’s work and style, whether it took hours or weeks or years. We’ve all heard those stories—they have a mythic quality anymore—and all writers understandably hope a publishing house editor will discover them in the mountains of submissions and nurture their work until success hits. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen now. In publishing houses, the “developmental editor” has morphed largely into the “acquisition editor” because that’s the focus anymore—acquisitions. And when acquisition editors are expected to shepherd the equivalent of 50+ book-length projects through each year, from acquisition to production, it’s little wonder they don’t have time to develop work sent their way. It’s either ready or it’s not. Agents face the same dilemma. There’s just too much to do to nurture a writer whose work isn’t yet ready to submit. On occasion, an agent will spend precious time to give suggestions to work they find promising—but that is by no means the rule. That’s the very rare exception, and it should be taken as a test of a writer’s ability to buckle down and rewrite, even if rewriting means gutting. In the main, however, writers get no feedback, just polite (or not so polite) rejections.
Into this vacuum, I step in. Independent developmental editors are well known in the industry—everyone from individual writers to agencies to publishers use their services. We’re one of the many sets of people operating behind the scenes. I am the person who reads the manuscript—plus agent or publisher comments, if available—and works with the writer to devise a revision strategy. First comes the identification of problematic areas—whether in specific sections or in how craft/argument techniques are used—and then suggestions for how to address these concerns—and there are always several options to consider. Each project is different, which keeps the work exciting and fresh. One project might need threads condensed or the structure reworked for balance and unity; another project might need its prose examined for weaker spots, while still another needs to reconsider how place or context is used in the story or argument. Presenting these problems and
their possible solutions in a clear, professional, and supportive way is the most important aspect of my job. And with this support, writers wind up with a manuscript ready to submit or resubmit to agents or publishers. Kimberly:
How did you happen to get into this business? Does it take talent or intuition to become a successful developmental editor?
AB Riddle and I met Ann Garvin in New York City at the Algonkian Pitch Conference. Ann was our instructor, our mentor, the voice that hammered into each of her l7 ‘pupils’ that we would, by God, be published.
Ann’s humor, laced in with a whole lot of persistence, helped us perfect a one-on-one ‘pitch’ we presented to four editors. She somehow brought l7 strangers together as a group, encouraged us to interact, get to know each other personally and inspired us to come together as real people with one common goal. She is the definition of a leader. Author, nurse, teacher, mother, Ann approaches everything she attempts with optimistic enthusiasm.
Kimberly: You have had many careers in your life. Which one is the best fit for you and why?
Ms. Garvin: My best career is the one I have now: professor. I get to be a bossy know-it-all, talk about the thing I am most passionate about which is health. I don’t have a boss (so to speak) so my issues with authority go un-perturbed. The schedule is flexible, meaning I can work when I am most productive and not on a nine-to-five schedule and I get to use both my left and right brain together. I love my job and teaching. I am so lucky.
Kimberly: The main characters in your novel, On Maggie’s Watch, along with other short stories and your novelette, Must Like Working With Cows are strong women. Are these characters that you bring to life based on women you know?
Ms. Garvin: I’m sure that bits and pieces of my characters come from people that I know, along with parts of my personality intertwined. Having said that, I don’t actually have someone in mind when I’m writing the characters. They live in my mind and on the page completely and if they come from a flesh and blood person, I’m not entirely aware of it. But, I hang with some made-of-steel women—I’m sure they are alive in my work.
Kimberly: At what point in life did you absolutely know you were going to be a writer? That you were not going to take ‘no’ for an answer?
Ms. Garvin: When I started, it was on a lark. When I won the contest that started me writing it became a possibility. When I wrote the first chapter of my book, it became my life.
Kimberly: Can you tell us a little about your new book? And when will they be coming out?
Ms. Garvin: I have two new books almost completed. Ask me this question again in a month.
Kimberly: You have an outgoing personality and have the ability to share yourself with others. In return, they feel comfortable opening up to you. Could you be content in the role of a full-time writer -- someone who many times isolates themselves from the outside world?
Interviewing Patrice Fitzgerald, along with reading her book, was a privilege. Along with this privilege, I have had the opportunity to get to know this author personally. As you read this interview and get to know more about Ms. Fitzgerald, you will ask yourself ‘how can one woman do so much?’ I asked this question myself and then she would comment on one my posts on Facebook, or I would discover an e-mail in my in-box from Ms. Fitzgerald asking how my book is coming along. In addition to being an engaging writer, Ms. Fitzgerald genuinely cares about other people and other writers who hope to one day impact readers the same way Running impacted me.
Kimberly: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Ms. Fitzgerald: I'm one of those people who has always been involved with reading and writing, but somewhere along the way I decided that I had better be "serious" and study law rather than planning to write or sing, both of which seemed to be great fun but risky as career choices. So after college and law school, I practiced intellectual property law at a couple of big corporations and through my own law firm. There were some good aspects to being a lawyer, but I yearned to be more creative, and eventually gave it up to be a freelance writer and novelist.
Kimberly: Was Running inspired by anything or anyone in your past?
Ms. Fitzgerald: I first conceived of Running way back when Bill Clinton was dealing with the Lewinsky scandal. I thought… what if the country were faced with a woman politician with a past? How would that play out? Is there a double standard in politics?
Kimberly: Two females running against each other in the Presidential Race -- do you ever see this as happening? Is it maybe your forecast for the future?
Ms. Fitzgerald: I definitely see the possibility of two women running against each other for the office of President. As soon as we have one serious candidate, we're likely to get two soon after. In fact, I was afraid I'd missed the boat on publishing "Running" because I was so sure that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee for a moment there… but the tide turned, as it so often does, and Obama became the front-runner.
Kimberly: It was interesting to read about Zane as I don't feel the public really knows how many functional addicts there are in business world -- whether it's coke or prescription drugs. Is Zane based on characters you have known?
Ms. Fitzgerald: Zane is a character primarily from my imagination. But I know a lot of folks who manage to function while having an alcohol problem, and I figured cocaine was much the same. He was great fun to write, because he's so much at war with himself all the time. Looking cool and successful on the outside while being pummeled by self-doubt. And then by the end… watch out.
Kimberly: When you sat down to write Running, did you first do an outline, or just 'run' with it?
It is with pleasure that I introduce Rebecca Coleman to Underground Book Reviews. Ms. Coleman’s first published novel, The Kingdom of Childhood, has received rave reviews from both bestselling authors and those who have read her book. A native New Yorker, Ms. Coleman lives and works in Washington DC and is available to speak to Writer’s Groups on creative writing and publishing.
Kimberly: Is The Kingdom of Childhood the first novel you have written?
Ms. Coleman: No, I wrote several before it, learning along the way. I was an English major in college, but only took one creative writing class, and it wasn't very helpful. I often hear from people who say they would love to write a novel but don't have the time to attend workshops or courses, but I've never done any of that, either. What worked for me was to take part in online critique groups, where all the submissions and all the critiques are up there for everyone to see. I'd read someone's submission and develop my own opinion about it, and then read what the better writers said about it, and I'd develop a better eye, or ear, for the craft. I had little kids at home-- that was all I could do. But it's worked out so far.
Kimberly: What gave you the idea to write about a Waldorf teacher having an affair with a l6 year old boy? Did you attend a Waldorf school?
Ms. Coleman: I saw a story about a teacher-student affair on the news, and it struck me that this was a very interesting concept for a story, and one that seemed oddly under-used. Part of my thinking was that the only boy we've ever heard speak out about such a relationship is Vili Fualaau, Mary Kay LeTourneau's lover, and that affair was a complete anomaly-- most of those boys don't grow up to marry the teacher and have children with her. So to give such a boy a voice-- to show a criminal and non-idealized affair from his perspective-- seemed like that rare opportunity to tell a story that truly felt new. Concerning the Waldorf aspect, I attended ordinary public schools myself, but my oldest son attended a Waldorf preschool for a while. That experience-- the combination of my fondness for it and my loss of idealism about it-- had a lot to do with why I wrote the novel.
Kimberly: How difficult was it to find an agent? Did you go through what most of us do and receive rejection after rejection? Or was the novel swept up by the first agent you sent it to?
Ms. Coleman: I received 93 rejections for this novel alone. And that was on top of the 200-plus rejections-- I am not exaggerating that number-- for my first couple of manuscripts. That figure-- 93-- represents 91 agents, because two of them rejected it twice. I was so totally jaded by the time my soon-to-be-agent requested a phone call with me that I sent out ten more queries in between that request and the actual phone call. But I love my agent, so the whole endurance challenge proved to be absolutely worth it. Along the way, though, when I had no idea whatsoever about whether the effort was ever going to pay off, it was hell. I have all the sympathy in the world for querying writers.
Kimberly: At what age did you start writing? When did you absolutely know you WERE a writer?
Ms. Coleman: Well, I remember, at the end of second grade, giving my teacher the gift of a piece of cardboard on which I'd drawn all my favorite characters from the short stories I liked to write. It was really meaningful to me-- I felt like I was introducing all my closest friends to her. And then, next to my senior picture in the high school yearbook, I listed my career goal as "writer." So I suppose it was always a part of my identity, but it wasn't until after my third child was born-- I was in my mid-twenties then-- that I started taking it seriously. I wish I could say I always knew the day would come when I was published, but I'd be lying. All I knew was that I wasn't going to stop trying until I had exhausted every avenue, and then, if all else had failed, I'd write another book and try with that one.