Welcome to the six hundred and eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction author Karen Kilby. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Karen. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Karen: I live in Kingwood, Texas, which is northeast of Houston. It’s known as the “Liveable Forest”, not typically what one might think of in Texas. I never thought about being a writer but was encouraged by close friends and family to share my God moment life experiences with others.
Morgen: I think we in the UK think of Dallas when we think of Texas, all high-rise buildings in the cities and ranches on the outskirts. You write non-fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Karen: My life experiences have given me more than enough material for writing my short stories.
Morgen: I find the same. It doesn’t take much (often just one word) to get a story down. What have you had published to-date?
Karen: I have over thirty stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul series and other faith-based books. Becoming a Woman of Purpose – A Thirty One Day Devotional is my first complete work.
Morgen: The Chicken Soup books are incredibly popular over here, and books like them. Is your book available as an eBook? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Karen: Yes – it is available as an e-Book however, I prefer good paper!
Morgen: Most people do. I have so many books in my house that I don’t think I’ll ever run out, even if I don’t buy anymore, although I do love the Kindle app on my iPad. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your book? How important do you think they are?
Morgen: It’s a great cover. Clean a simple. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Karen: Gathering stories for a second book and submitting individual stories to Chicken Soup.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day?
Karen: No, I do not write every day. Mostly when the mood hits me or a memory recalled.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Karen: As I write I edit. The best advice that I was given by my mentor was to let it sit a few days and return to it later. This often helps to think of ways to enrich my work.
Morgen: Absolutely. I do some red pen critique for https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/red-pen-critique and it’s always easier to critique someone else’s work because you don’t know the meaning or inspiration behind it. That’s partially the case (if your memory’s anything like mine) when you come back to old (marinated) works. Do you have to do much research?
Karen: No – it’s all memory. It’s interesting how many details the mind’s computer holds.
Morgen: Or doesn’t hold so well in my case (it’s always been like that; my brother, although he’s two years older than me, has always remembered our upbringing better than me). Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Karen: Not at this time.
Morgen: That’s good. I hope not either. Writing is like any craft; you getter better as you practice so you can see where early things can be improved (that’s what I’m hoping for my dusty files anyway). Do you pitch for submissions?
Karen: I have requested the opportunity to present pieces to magazines but use this as a means of promoting my work.
Morgen: That’s a good idea. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Karen: I had the usual rejection from publishers when I first submitted my book. One editor offered me the sound counsel that I should not give up – that the manuscript had ministered to her and it was the perfect size to fit into a woman’s purse to give encouragement when she had a few minutes to spare. Amazon labelled it the “Perfect Paperback”.
Morgen: Wow, that’s encouraging, especially given that editors don’t usually have the time to give feedback. Do you enter any non-fiction competitions?
Karen: I am unaware of any. Do you know of any that you might recommend?
Morgen: Some. I have a whole host on blog’s competitions page, although most are fiction. Hopefully there’ll be something there of interest. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Karen: I do not have an agent but my Publisher is very active and helpful in the marketing of my book.
Morgen: That’s good to hear. Most don’t have the time or budget. How much marketing do you do?
Karen: Local marketing through a variety of networking events have been very helpful in the marketing of my book. My active role in the Chamber of Commerce has been a blessing and my church and club affiliations have served to extend my reach. I use social media as a platform for expanding my marketing efforts and participate in a variety of trade and book signing events.
Morgen: We’re very fortunate to be writers in this day and age, plus it means that we get to ‘speak’ to our readers. I love that. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Karen: My favourite encouragement is the positive outpouring response from readers. This has been most uplifting and gratifying. Least favourite is trying to figure out how to put into more people’s hands.
Morgen: I think we’re all still learning that, although I have had a few guest bloggers talk about marketing (listed by topic on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/guest-blogs/topics). What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Karen: Never give up! There is a story in there someplace. You just have to find it and talk and write about it until your willing to share it with others.
Morgen: You do, absolutely. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Karen: Margaret Mitchell – Author of Gone with the Wind – so I could learn more about Scarlet O’Hara.
Julia Childs – Let her do the cooking.
Billy Graham – He could say “Grace”.
Morgen: I’d not heard of Julia Childs until the movie ‘Julie & Julia’, it’s great… and a good plan of yours inviting a chef. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Karen: From Gone with the Wind – “I won’t worry about that today. I’ll worry about it tomorrow.”
Morgen: I like that. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Karen: They are real life characters – some more so than others.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Karen: First person. Never tried second person.
Morgen: Second is a very acquired taste, and best suited to fiction really as it tends to lend itself to darker pieces, unless that’s just me. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Karen: Small writers group. Speaking about writing.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Karen: Church-related activities. I also am a Certified Personality Trainer for CLASServices and do workshops and seminars based on the writings of Florence and Marita Littauer.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Karen: Open to learning of what’s available.
Morgen: I’ve been compiling a list from suggestions in these interviews and have some on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-other-peoples/writing-related. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Karen: Yes. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter. Yes – somewhat.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Karen: From the beginning of time people have been telling stories and since the beginning of the written word they have been putting those stories down for others to read. I don’t see that changing even though the methods might change.
Morgen: I don’t either, although as you say the methods are changing, improving I think – we have more choice nowadays. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Karen: My web site is: http://www.karenkilby.tateauthor.com.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Karen: My Mission Statement is: Serving Others to Improve Professional and Personal Relationships through my writing, seminars and workshops.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Karen: How do writers from the United States best market their work in the UK? Can you share with me the three or four most effective means for doing so? Do you have easy access to Amazon for eBooks and is shipping reasonable?
Morgen: I’d say to go on blogs such as this one but about two-thirds of my visitors are from the UK. Just try as many as you can really (there are lists on http://kitaabonline.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/author-tips-list-of-bloggers-who-interview-authors, http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2012/07/02/the-top-100-creative-writing-blogs-updated and http://www.tribalmessengerdaily.com/top-50-blogs-for-authors – I only know because I’m on them). You’re on social networking so you have a head start. I’ve heard forums are good for meeting potential readers – Kindle Boards especially. I have access to all Amazon sites, although only Amazon.co.uk for actually purchasing books and there have been some (the names escape me) which I’ve not been able to buy here. I’ve tended to buy books with shipping included but I know our Royal Mail rates are one of the highest. I hope that’s helped. Thank you, Karen.
I then invited Karen to include a synopsis of her book…
Karen R. Kilby openly shares from her own life, highlighting situations where she saw God’s hand. This thirty-one-day devotional includes applicable scriptures and a prayer for each day. Discover what it means to trust God and live in his will through Becoming a Woman of Purpose. Karen addresses relevant issues women struggle with and offers hope for a new outlook on life, shedding light on the need to look beyond the ordinary and encouraging readers to look for God’s involvement in the hum drum of everyday existence. You too can become a woman of purpose as you allow God to work in your life.
Karen R. Kilby is a certified personality trainer with CLASServices, Inc., and a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries. Karen has had over thirty stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and other faith-based books. She was recognized as FamilyTime’s 2010 Woman of Achievement for the Arts and resides in Kingwood, Texas.
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