The details of Kelly's first published book are:
Genre: Western Historical Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Published: April 18, 2011
What would you risk to keep a promise? Katherine Slade has two goals: to escape her outlaw husband and to find the family of the man who died saving her life. Taking the place of a mail-order bride isn't part of her plan—until she's forced to continue the charade and become Sheriff Connor Langston's housekeeper to stay out of jail. Pretending to be another woman is hard, but Katherine's real challenge is resisting her growing attraction to the handsome lawman...
Falling in love is the last thing Connor needs, even if the rest of Fatal Bluff wants him to. His hands are full with a band of outlaws threatening the safety of his town, and a child to raise. But Kate has a way of getting under his skin and into little Jenny's heart. Soon Connor can't get the fiery beauty out of his head—along with his suspicion that Kate isn't who she claims to be.
When Connor learns the truth about Kate, is there any way for this outlaw bride to become the sheriff's wife?
What an absolutely gorgeous cover. It really is beautiful. So...how would you describe what you write?
For the most part, I would say my writing is an emotional story tempered with humor. I like to explore some darker elements, but inevitably humor always crops up to keep things from getting too mired down. I love stories with a redemption theme and seem to be drawn to writing them. I’m a huge history buff, so my natural inclination is to set my stories in the past, however I read books across the board in all types of genres and styles and while I love historicals, I have no plans on writing strictly in the historical genre, but plan to branch out into others, mainly YA, which is where I started, and contemporary. I also have a legal thriller kicking around in my cranium that I may need to deal with eventually. I find this helps keep my writing and ideas fresh and the process more enjoyable.
Wow, that's awesome. I find myself a good story is a good story, regardless of genre. What’s your writing process in a nutshell?
I am a mad plotter. For me, plotting the story and the characters out beforehand is the fun part and it really helps me get a handle on these people and what their issues are. I often follow a story structure such as the 3 Act Structure and Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet. I also like to story board my outline as well. I’ve just downloaded Scrivener and can’t wait to start using it. However, once my outline is complete, it is never written in stone. When I’m writing things will come up and I’ll realize there’s a better way to do something or a better direction to move the story in. When this happens, I’ll usually stop and map it out, to make sure I’m not getting off track and that the new idea works best. Then it’s back to the writing again. I never do character interviews, but I will do an extensive backstory on the hero and heroine and the villain as well.
I'm a supporter of the detailed character backstory as well :)! What has your submission history looked like?
I started writing at age 8, but I wrote my first manuscript when I was 18. A YA murder mystery that I would still love to go back to and revise. My next manuscript was a western historical romance I wrote in my early 20s. It’s still a story near and dear to my heart, so that one will be coming back of storage for a revision sometime in the near future. After I finished that manuscript I really didn’t know what to do with it, or where to go. I entered it into a contest a publisher was having and didn’t win (might have had something to do with all the head hopping, backstory dump and the fact it was over 600 pages long!). After that, real life took over. I picked away at my writing here and there but it wasn’t until I was laid off from my job of 15 years in 2002 I had a change in perspective. I realized writing was what I was meant to be doing and I really needed to get on that. My mom gave me an interview Julianne MacLean did in our local paper. I tracked her down and asked for some advice and she led me to RWA and our local chapter Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada. That was a huge game-changer for me. I started writing The Outlaw Bride. The manuscript won or placed in a few contests, I had requests, it was either rejected or the editor/agent changed houses, moved, left the business (I was starting to think I was jinxed!). Eventually I set it aside. Westerns were a hard sell and not too many publishers were buying them. No problem. I had this great idea for a 4 book Victorian series with an over-arching plot of murder and intrigue linking the four stories together. I entered Desire & Brimstone in contests, won and placed in several, had requests, was asked to take part in a documentary, Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings, as one of the featured authors along with Kayla Perrin and Kathryn Smith. Eventually, the manuscript was rejected by a handful of agents and a couple of editors (or the editor/agent moved, left the business, etc). I realized the story still needed work, so I set it aside to write another western historical (currently under consideration) and the first of a 3-book series set in Regency England. I also wrote first drafts of a contemporary and a YA. The road to publication has not been easy. There is a big learning curve and a lot of rejection along the way. I think the key is to know this going in and accept it as part of the job. Learn what you can from it and move on. Understand it isn’t the end of the world, just a bump in the road. Drive over it and keep going.
I think there are very few authors who had an easy road to publication. I think it makes success that much sweeter. How did you pick Carina Press to publish your first book?
I really loved The Outlaw Bride and I knew it was a story worth telling and worth selling, but most publishers seemed to want regency and only a few were taking westerns. I’m a strong believer that a good story is a good story and will eventually find a home, so I never gave up the idea of selling The Outlaw Bride. I had initially been reluctant to go the e-publishing route, but as it started to gain a strong foothold I re-evaluated my opinion and realized it was a growing force and I wanted to be a part of it with a reputable publisher. When Carina opened for business, a friend, Lilly Cain, published with them and was impressed. I looked into them, liked what I saw with respect to the fact they had the Harlequin muscle behind them, a well-respected Executive Editor in Angela James, and a solid platform. I sent The Outlaw Bride to them as a full and crossed my fingers.
Well it worked! And how. What’s your ‘call’ story?
I was at work when I got the call. I was on my work phone talking to then boyfriend/now husband when my cell phone rang. I saw the number, hung up on my boyfriend and took the call. It was Angela James calling me to tell me they loved The Outlaw Bride and wanted to publish it. I think my first words to her were – “That was totally worth hanging up on my boyfriend for!” (He’s since forgiven me!) Naturally I wanted to scream and jump around but since I was at work and didn’t want my co-workers to think I’d completely lost my mind, I was relegated to doing a happy dance in my chair along with a few arm pumps. After I hung up I sat in my chair in a total brain freeze for about five seconds staring at my computer screen and trying to figure out if that had actually just happened. Then, when the brain freeze wore off, I called my boyfriend back to let him know what had happened then emailed and called the rest of my friends and family to give them the news.
LOL. I love hearing call stories!! Did you have an agent when you sold? Now?
I didn’t have an agent when I sold. I didn’t need one for Carina Press. I don’t have one now either, although once I finish the manuscript I’m working on now (the regency historical) I will start shopping around.
What’s it like working with a publisher and editor? Are revisions really as bad as you hear?
My editor, Elizabeth Bass, was so incredibly awesome. She really made the process painless, and by the time I sent The Outlaw Bride to Carina, it had been through about 6-8 revisions already, so it was pretty clean. There were a few minor revisions, but nothing extensive. So my first experience in that regard was pretty good. Carina Press has been wonderful to work with too. They’re very pro-author, work to promote you, give you plenty of guidance on how to do things etc. Overall, my first foray into the publishing world has been very positive.
So glad you had such a great experience. How did you feel the first time you saw your cover? How much input did you have?
I filled out a sheet…which has a name that I forget at the moment! I’m not sure how much of it was used in the process, but I loved the cover they came up with, so it was all good. That was my main fear – getting a cover that made me cringe. So to get one I loved was a huge relief. I also loved the fact I was able to keep my original title too.
The cover really is awesome. What was release day like for you?
It was exciting to wake up in the morning and realize – Wow, today is the day my book is released! It’s a little surreal. But again, real life. I still had to get up and go to the day job and deal with all of that. It added a little perspective. We had my husband’s son that night so we couldn’t go out to celebrate – again, real life, right? But we had a bottle of wine and I had congratulatory emails from my friends etc. And the thrill of knowing what that day represented to me – the first release day of many!! – was a nice high that lasted all day long.
How did you market your book?
I will say marketing is not my forte. I’m working on it, and I’m learning as I go, but it’s an ongoing thing. Carina do a blog post and Facebook notices etc from their end which was great, but I also had to hit the social media market and get the word out there. I did a blog tour, I tweeted, my website had been revamped, my Facebook page was given a workout, joined Goodreads, attended the RWA National conference. I did a few marketing things locally as a group with my RWAC crew (strength in numbers!). I’m still working on the marketing as well all these many months later. I think it’s essential to keep your name and your book out there and find new ways to reach new readers. I’m currently reading up on new ways to market your book and hoping to get some new ideas.
Yeah, it's also one of those things that is impossible to assess what really works and what doesn't, right? What’s the most surprising thing you learned during the publishing process?
I’m not sure I learned anything new about getting published only because I had good friends who had gone before me and they were such a great wealth of information and advice. Also, working with Carina was a wonderful experience and an easy one. As for what I would do differently, I wish I had Book 2 in the Fatal Bluff series ready, or at least almost ready to go, when I submitted The Outlaw Bride, so there would have been less time between releases. But at the time I was in the middle of another book, then after conference I had several requests for other books, and I’ve discovered there are not enough hours in the day!!
Yeah, right? What do you think were the factors that got you published?
I think the first thing that worked in my favor was perseverance. I really believed in my book and that a good story would find a home. I never lost sight of this fact and continued to learn my craft, improve my writing and my knowledge of the industry and just kept plugging away until I found the right home for The Outlaw Bride. The second factor was having my manuscript in the absolute best shape I could get it in. By the time I sent it to Carina, there was nothing left I could do to it to make it a better story. That manuscript is going to be your calling card to publishers and it’s essential it is as good as you can make it.
I actually think perseverance is one of the most critical things for a writer to have. What’s your 5 year plan look like?
I just finished working on my writing plan for the next two years and it’s looking pretty busy. The Fatal Bluff series has 4 more books in it which need to be written. The regency series has a request on it, so that needs to get done, as well as Desire & Brimstone and a YA series. So all of those need to get done and get sent out. Another goal I am working on is to have enough product out in the market to justify dropping my day job down to part-time to allow for more writing time. But that will depend on what I can accomplish in the next two years. My plan is to target all areas of publishing – traditional, e-publishing, and eventually self-publishing, and as I said earlier I expect to be writing in several genres, not just historical. In 5 years my ultimate goal will be to be writing full time with at a minimum 3-4 releases per year in varying formats, to be a recognizable name in the industry, and to grow my craft so my writing continues to improve.
So, what’s next for you?
Next up for me is to finish Book 2 & 3 in the Fatal Bluff series, tentatively titled The Widow Bride and The Scandalous Bride respectively. These two books will tell the stories of the other two mail order brides on the train Kate Spade rode into Fatal Bluff on. After that, there is a certain bounty hunter and saloon owner who will each get their own books. I am also completing revisions on Book 1 in my regency series, An Invitation to Scandal, which will be sent out to a publisher on request. I also have a western historical under consideration with another publisher, so fingers crossed that works out.
That's awesome. What’s the best advice you can impart to writers aspiring to be published?
I think the best advice I can give is to treat it like a job. I get up at 5am every morning to write before work because that is the only way I can fit it into my schedule and make it a daily habit. It isn’t something you can just pick away at and hope it works out. Write every day, or at least 5 days a week. Hone your craft. Learn the industry. Don’t buckle under rejection, it’s a temporary setback, not the end of the road. And no matter what, keep going. Keep trying. Keep learning. And keep writing. Perseverance is key.
Great advice. I love that.
Now for some fun! If you were stranded on a desert island but could only take 1 thing from each of the following categories, what would it be & why:
Person – I’d take my husband. He’s a lot of fun to hang out with.
Animal – I have a 2 year old golden retriever, Cedar, who is the biggest clown out there. I’d take him for the entertainment value alone.
Food – I’m trying to figure out how to combine wine, bread, cheese and chocolate into one word… I’ll go with cheese. I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like.
Book – Oh wow…how do you pick just one?? Elizabeth Chadwick is one of my favorite authors so I would likely pick the next book of hers I had to read.
Music – I’m currently a big Adele and Christina Perri fan, so probably one of those. Of course that would mean belting out the tunes along with them which might have my husband swimming for the next island…
Personal Item – My knitting (it’s my other obsession next to writing).
Facebook: Kelly Boyce, Author - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kelly-Boyce-Author/167747449914858
Twitter: @KellyLBoyce - http://twitter.com/#!/KellyLBoyce
Thank you, Kelly for being such a good sport and answering my totally unsolicited email! I've enjoyed getting to know you and I loved hearing about your journey so far and your fabulous plans for the future. I wish you wonderful successes moving forward!