Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I’m a very active mom of three amazing kids. I’ve been creative all my life. I was extremely involved in drama as a child then college peaked my interest in writing. As an adult, I wrote advertorials for a local magazine and worked at our print shop. As my children grew and became traveling tournament tennis players, I watched them fight and be incredibly brave and resilient alone on the court. In junior tennis, the kids are not allowed a coach or a parent during the match. It’s tough, and it teaches valuable life lessons. And that’s what encouraged me to be arduous too. To get out there regardless of failure or criticism and write the story I knew I had inside me.
How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
I’m a bit unorganized. My life has to go with the flow so I can be there for my children. For example, over the last two months, I’ve been at the whim of my daughter’s college recruiting schedule. And for this reason, I usually grab time when I can. Early mornings are best, and I guard them like my German Shepherd guards his favorite toy.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?
I am addicted to my MacBook Air. I take it everywhere. It fits nicely into my purse. I also speak into my iPhone on a regular basis. If an idea pops into my head, I get it into my notes as soon as possible. I don’t let any brainchild get away.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
My favorite part of writing is the characters. I love them. I may think I know where the story is going but the characters might have a different opinion. I always follow their lead. For example, in my novel coming out in March, First Awakened (working title), my protagonist, Tarian, discovers a secret waterway to South America. He discovered this not me. It was not in my outline. I followed his path, and now my story makes multiple stops in South America where it's fun, exciting and suspenseful. When things like that happen organically, I fall in love with writing all over again. As for my least favorite part, it's time. When I’m on a roll, and I have to stop to pick up my son from school or go to a doctor’s appointment, that is the worst. It can be difficult to pick up where I left off.
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How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?
First Born started over four years ago as I helped my then-eighth-grade daughter with her Civil War paper. Suddenly history excited me like never before. The gruesome battles, the brave men, the strategy and how one decision could change the outcome, could get men killed or saved. I began to think it impossible to survive such a life, so my mind went to immortals. What if the soldiers were immortal or at least a handful of them were? What if these soldiers helped America win all the wars? What if they helped run the government? And hence my secret society of the Guardians of Dare was born. Eleanor Dare is an actual historical person. She was the daughter of John White and came over to America as a colonist. Her colony disappeared. In nonfiction history, this group of settlers disappeared with little evidence and are known today as the Lost Colony of Roanoke. In my fiction story, they vanished on purpose and became the Guardians of Dare.
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
I am with BookRhythm. They have helped tremendously with my exposure on social media. Due to them, my fan base has risen but now it’s up to me to engage with my fans and social media friends. Every day I spend a little time saying hello. I will either retweet someone’s tweet or thank a fan on my author page or post a picture on Instagram. Also, it’s critical to network with other writers. We are all in this together, and readers want to read lots of books. My writer friends are the best, and I cherish them. If not for them, I'd miss out on half the events I do. These events allow more interactions with possible fans, and when competing in an international market, that's important.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
The sequel to First Born has been sent to beta readers so right now I’m waiting to hear what they have to say and then it’s more editing. First Awakened’s release date is March 2017.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
Absolutely, and I can’t wait to get back to it now that I have a window of time. It centers on a sixteen-year-old girl who lives and works at a dog rescue kennel. She is anxiety ridden and struggles to get through high school. She is most comfortable with and highly capable of handling the rescue dogs. Due to a brutal crime against a pit bull that her kennel has saved, her world goes viral, and all hell breaks loose. It’s a John Green style romantic story. I’ve already submitted three chapters to my critique group, and they love it and believe me they are very critical. So I’m thrilled.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
I’d say find readers that aren’t your friends and family to read your work and critique it. If the readers that are your target audience love it, then go for it, if they don’t you have work still to do. I slashed and cut for two years before one fifteen-year-old girl that I didn’t know fell in love with Tarian and cried when one of my characters died, and that’s when I knew I could throw it into the public (wolves). Then I’d tell this new writer, don’t expect everyone to like it. Rejoice in the good reviews and learn from the bad. Keep writing and keep learning so you can continue to put out better stories.
A question for Kathryn:
I’ve been introduced to more and more small publishers lately. A lot of them are printing houses turned publishing houses or combining services. Is there an advantage to going with a small publishing establishment like this over the self-publishing route?
My company, Idea Creations Press, fits into this category. For a writer who doesn't want to have to worry about figuring out how to format the book, get an ISBN number, create a book cover, and so forth, small publishers or book packagers as I like to call them, help them create the book they want so that they can focus on the writing itself.
I left a traditional publishing house years ago, and I also know authors who put together their own books. I think what's important, is that you choose the venue that best suits you as a writer. Do you like to have full, partial or no part in the final product? Do you want to do most, part or none of the work yourself? Answering these questions will give you a good idea on what sort of publishing to shoot for.
Learn more about Janelle:
Book Rythm: http://bookrhythm.com/janelle-gabay/