Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I have Karin Beery as my guest. Somehow, here in Kentucky, I have met so many Michigan transplants that I feel like I know the state and its people well. I recently polled Christian readers and asked for their favorite trope. Marriage of convenience was by far the number one answer – which is a lot of fun because you can do so much with those stories. Karin’s latest release is a marriage of convenience story. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Born and raised in Michigan, I now live further north than I ever expected to live. The winters are long, but working from home makes them easier to endure—I love my bedroom-to-living room commute! I’ve set all of my books in Michigan because the climate is so vast: sometimes we have 100-degree days with lots of humidity and sometimes we have -20-degree days with -40-degree wind chills. Plus, there are still lots of rural areas where you can’t get internet/4G/cell phone reception, so it lends itself to creating all kinds of problems for my characters.
I love living near the water, having four seasons, kayaking, reading, spending time with my friends, playing board games, and watching football (I’d watch more hockey, but it’s on too late; I’m an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of girl). My husband is my complete opposite and my best friend. We have two cats and two dogs.
Tell us about your current release. I wrote Practically Married to answer the question, “What would it take today for two adults to decide to get married for practical reasons instead of for love?” (I love reading historical romance marriage-of-convenience stories, but didn’t want to do the research to make one historically accurate.)
The main focus of the book is the practical marriage between Russ and Ashley, but this is really Ashley’s story—with her people-pleasing tendencies, can she go through with the marriage and still make everyone happy, including herself?
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? This is a great question, because you’ll notice Practically Marriage isn’t Christian fiction; it’s clean fiction. When my agent first pitched this manuscript years ago, we received great feedback from Christian publishers and general market publishers, but each wanted me to change something: Christian publishers wanted me to make it a historical novel and general market publishers wanted me to eliminate the Christian content.
I prayed a lot about it, and I decided to make the switch to clean, God-honoring fiction without the overtly Christian content. Then I discovered Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas—a general market publisher who doesn’t publish anything that breaks biblical principles. The owner explained his vision to me like this:
Medical missionaries don’t preach to patients while they reset bones or stitch wounds; they provide the medical care people need, then make sure people know how to contact them/find out more about God if and when they’re ready.
LPC’s goal (and mine) are to publish good (clean!) books that entertain without compromising my faith. If readers like my books and want to know more about me and my faith, they’re encouraged to reach out to me.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? I did a lot of research before I made this decision. One thing I discovered is that it’s very difficult to make a living as a self-published novelist. It’s easy to publish books, but to make money ($10,000+ year) at it, you really have to be a business person. Everything falls into your lap, and you need to figure out how to do it all well. When you traditionally publish, you have a lot more help and a support system for many of the steps.
Another big reason I chose the traditional route is pride. I know that I struggle with pride, and it would be easy to say, “These publishers don’t get me/don’t recognize my brilliance/are just being bitter,” and publish my own book, but that would also be letting my pride tell me that I know more than people who’ve been in the industry for decades (versus my 2-3 years of novel-writing experience). I decided that I needed to trust the experts, not my own opinion of myself. Turns out they were right, and my writing has only gotten better because I listened to them.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I create detailed characters before I start writing. I know the basics (age, height, weight, appearance), plus everything about their family, work experience, education, relationship history (friends and boyfriends/girlfriend), etc. Then I create personal and professional goals for each of them, including why they want to achieve those goals and what’s preventing them from achieving them. I’m adding a new layer for my next novel—core personality types.
Once I have that figured out, I ask myself, “How do I get these characters from Point A to Point B?” I don’t map it out, I just start writing, but I constantly check to make sure my characters act in ways that are consistent with the histories and personalities I’ve created for them.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Be teachable! I meet so many authors who want to do it their way. They think that 2-3 years of writing makes them experts, so they fight with editors and more experienced authors instead of learning from them.
A close second—work with an editor. Not another author or agents or retired English teacher, but an editor. I now work at a publishing house, and I see so many manuscripts that were “professionally edited” by people who aren’t editors, and those manuscripts are usually full of errors and weak writing.
Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? I read Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High, but I really devoured The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann Martin and The New Files of Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene.
Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? Both! I really do love the stories I’ve written, which is one of the reasons I need an editor—I get so involved in the story that I miss the mistakes! I do hope, of course, that others will enjoy the characters and their stories as much as I do.
What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write? I make myself write, even if what I write is terrible. That’s the beauty of the editing process—you can always cut it later! In each book I’ve had to force my way through a few scenes knowing that I’d cut them later; when I go back to edit, though, I realize the scenes aren’t as bad as I thought they were. If you don’t keep writing, though, then you’ll never make progress.
Here is where you can find Karin online:
Karin is giving away an ebook or paperback (paperback to US only) copy of her book to a reader! See below how to enter to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway