1. What is one thing we would be surprised to learn about you? That I have a little bit of musical theater in my background. As a kid I auditioned for the musical Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I made every single cut except the last one- they said I was simply too tall to play a little kid. :(
2. Last great book you read? The Goldfinch was brilliant. Her was gritty but just incredible.
3. What is your go to hostess gift? Everything WINE. Ferrari Carano chardonnay or Silver Oak Cabernet.
4. What is your guilty pleasure? True crime books, Broad City, Vanderpump Rules, and chocolate milkshakes in the dead of winter.
5. Where is the best place you’ve ever been? Post Ranch Inn at Big Sur. It was rustic, dramatic, and jawdroppingly stunning. I felt swept away, completely one with the Earth.
6. What are you currently coveting? Bylines. My husband’s looming graduation. Sandals and sunscreen. A perfect trenchcoat. Backyard cocktails and a fire in our fire pit. Strong runner’s legs.
7. What song makes you rock out every time you hear it? The Walker by Fitz & the Tantrums
8. What is your greatest fear? Losing my father.
9. What is the funniest name you’ve ever had written on your Starbucks cup? No one really screws up Kelly, but one time someone wrote ‘Pretty Eyes’ and I thought that was just about the nicest damn thing.
10. Signature scent? Chance by Chanel seems to keep finding a way into my house. Really lusting after Prada Candy L’Eau, though.
11. Pet Peeves? Rudeness. Toilet seats left up. Elitist attitudes.
Ever heard of a query letter? Think slick, carefully assembled pitch that says who you are and why your book should be available in libraries and wherever books are sold. Now imagine me at a desk, covered in queries.
It’s not as easy as pressing SEND and hoping for the best (naively, this was my assumption)- the art of querying involves researching literary agents looking for the exact type of work I’m putting out. Once I look up a literary agency, I read all the agent bios, and see if my works (memoir + short essay + children’s picture books) are applicable. Then I tailor my query to align with the agent’s interests and throw in some creative hook to stand out amongst a mountain of other writers. But a lot of research also leads to a lot of dead ends- the agency is too small, too big, not accepting my particular queries now, or I’m just not a fan of the books they represent. But I keep digging and plugging along knowing that while the majority of these queries will be rejected outright, all it takes is one YES to change the game.
Other new developments include actually acting the part of a writer- create a professional website (note: TheMissQ is not my writer website), have updated business portraits taken, and do the stuff that writers do- local events, conferences, try to nab freelance gigs, and general networking.
In pulling together this kind of career while still being the full-time caregiver to my son, I’ve gleaned some important things:
1. Something’s gotta give. To make progress with my writing or queries, that usually means that my house is a mess, I am unshowered, and that I may have to pass on occasional social stuff that will pull me away from my laptop. That being said, I try to make use of every single minute of the day- combine my workout with play when I put Wells in his bike seat and take him for a long ride. I specialize in super fast dinner prep. As soon as Wells goes down for a nap, I write and write and write…til he wakes.
2. Turn off the TV. Yes, I still watch The Americans, Broad City, and a few other DVR favorites. But I’ve drastically cut back on my tv consumption (bye-bye, Scandal. You’re just too campy). When we moved our only tv into the basement last year, I realized just how often I had been zoning out by proximity. Less tv, less distraction…that much closer to my dreams.
3. Spread the news. For some reason, it was really difficult for me to actually say the words, “I am a writer,” without feeling like a complete weirdo. But it made sense that the people in my life- family, friends, neighbors, old co-workers, etc. should know what I was doing. When it comes to networking, I have accepted the fact that I need to be fearless…many of life’s opportunities lie in who you know and being in the right place at the right time.
4. It’s Marathon training…with words. For years, I put off writing because I felt like I never had the ‘perfect time’ to sit down and pen a NYTimes bestselling piece of nonfiction. THERE IS NO SUCH THING. I write in the morning if I have 5 minutes, I carry a small notepad if a story idea strikes in the middle of a grocery store, and I stay up late to get a chapter done. These tiny steps add up to big things. No one sits down and writes a perfect 400 page novella in an afternoon.
5. Research is endless. I was so clueless about how this tied into book proposals. I spent a decade writing marketing correspondence and RFPs in my past career…surely I could handle a book proposal! Proposals are daunting- I have to pitch myself, my writing, my resume, my contacts, my marketing plan, as well my competition- which basically means that I have to read A LOT of books that are similar to mine…books that sold well, are female-penned, and deal with similar issues. So in addition to writing, I’m constantly checking out library books (I have six in my house right now, and estimate I’ve read more than 30 since the beginning of the year). BUT…I also love research. I’ve read really great books that I feel have helped my writing immensely.
6. Support is everything. I have a lot of cool people in my corner cheering me on, and I definitely count YOU among them- yes, you. Tumblrs have been extremely kind and supportive of me and my dreams…especially when I was consumed with self-doubt and ready to quit (this has happened often). All those comments, direct messages, re-blogs, and emails have pushed me forward when I basically wanted to crawl into a hole. So thank you for that.
7. Make a long, long list and keep it close. A while back I wrote down all the reasons why I wanted to be a published writer. It is lengthy, rambling, and so, so necessary. It has goals, practical results, and wild fantasies all tied into one random document. But this list has kept me on my path…it reminds me of where I want to be.
8. Be vulnerable. I recently expressed some frantic worry to Fitz- what if his mom read the content of my memoir and was horrified by all the terrible things I have done? Surely she only knows the ‘me’ that showed up 9 years ago. What if she learns about stuff and changes her perception of me forever? Well…that might happen. BUT, as Fitz pointed out, she also might realize that I am flawed human being who’s journey has been bumpy but educational. No one has lived a perfect life to perfect results. Vulnerability can be a beautiful thing.
9. Just keep going. Start today. Work at it tomorrow. And keep at it. Even an inch forward is progress.
Okay, I’ve rambled enough. Thanks for being along for the ride.
Shizz just got real serious around here: I RSVP’d for a Writer’s Open Mjc Night.
I’m psyched, nervous, and fairly certain that I’m gonna hurl. Most of all, I’m wondering of it’s going to be like that artist’s interpretive showcase in the classically cheesy, coming-of-age film ‘She’s All That.’