Today I’m interviewing author Katie O’Sullivan.
You’re latest release is a small town, contemporary romance set in Cape Cod, My Kind of Crazy. You are also the author of Son of a Mermaid and the second book in that series, Blood of a Mermaid (due out in May of 2014). Tell us about your Mermaid series and what can we expect from My Kind of Crazy?
The SON OF A MERMAID series is aimed at a YA audience, while MY KIND OF CRAZY is a contemporary romance. All the books are set on Cape Cod, where I currently live, with the Atlantic Ocean playing a role. Of course, in the mermaid books there are a large number of scenes that take place in the mermaid realm under the waves, while the characters in MY KIND OF CRAZY are strictly human. Well, except for the foster puppy. He just thinks he’s a person.
What would you say makes them stand out from other books?
I like to think my books are intelligent, with snappy dialogue and real emotion. The biggest feedback I’ve received is that the place descriptions pull people in and make readers feel like they are actually visiting the scenes described in the books.
What current books would you compare them too?
If you like books by authors like Kristen Higgins and Mary Kay Andrews, with small town settings and feisty heroines looking for a second chance at happiness, you’ll like MY KIND OF CRAZY. It’s set in a small seaside town on Cape Cod. The SON OF A MERMAID series should appeal to fans of Percy Jackson, as they are more adventure stories than your typical mermaid romance.
Can you tell us about your personal background?
I grew up in New Jersey, but now I live on Cape Cod with my family and big dogs. In fact, the foster puppy in MY KIND OF CRAZY is modeled after our own Saint Bernard, who was a huge trouble maker when she was young! The day she learned to open the car windows on her own made me realize I was in big, big trouble.
How long have you been writing fiction?
I’ve always loved to write stories, but I didn’t get serious about it until my youngest was in full-day Kindergarten. A friend dragged me along to his writing class and I found my love of writing was still alive and well. It had just been dormant for twenty years.
What inspired you to become an author?
I was an early and voracious reader, and dreamed of writing stories that would inspire that same passion for reading in others.
My first two books were for adults, until I finally sold my first YA manuscript to Crescent Moon Press for the story that became SON OF A MERMAID, and the soon to be released sequel, BLOOD OF A MERMAID.
I love to read YA, but I also like to read smart romance novels with strong females taking charge of their lives and their own happiness – I guess that’s why I write that type of story as well. I like to write what I like to read.
I see that you also work as an editor and write a column, do you feel this has any bearing and/or impact on your fiction writing?
I’ve worked in many different writing and editing jobs over the years, and still work as a freelance editor. The column I write, “The Write Way,” gives advice on writing and editing, including answering frequently asked questions and addressing common mistakes.
When you work with other writers, the mistakes tend to jump out at you more. It’s so hard to edit your own words because you always “know” what you’re trying to say. Your brain will fill in the missing bits, or smooth over the rough patches. Correcting those mistakes in other people’s manuscripts also helps me to recognize them in my own work.
How do you balance, work, your writing career, and family?
Balance? You’re supposed to balance? No one told me that!
I see that you also blog. With regards to social media, what do you feel has benefited your writing career the most?
Blogging has helped me to connect with other writers and learn new things about both writing and promotion. The blog-writing itself is a good tool to sharpen skills, but the biggest part about blogging is that you’re supposed to actually support others. Visit other blogs, read and comment on other opinions, build relationships. Bloggers support each other, and you’re building a network of online support and friendship, because face it. Most of an author’s time is sitting alone in front of a computer screen. My ability to do this successfully waxes and wanes, but I know that’s how it’s supposed to work.
What are your thoughts about the publishing industry today?
Publishing is changing rapidly. There’s no longer just one route to publication, like when I first graduated from college. Authors today have so many (too many) options and choices and decisions to make…but it’s also exciting because authors have so many options and choices and decisions they are able to ponder! With the advent of new self-publishing venues, the next few years will be interesting to watch.
Can you speak a little about your experiences working with small presses?
I’ve worked with four different small press publishers over the years, and three have been great experiences. The other was a learning experience.
A small press has the advantage of allowing the author a greater degree of control over their storyline and artwork, but the disadvantage of smaller distribution network. With a small press, an author has to be willing to go the extra mile with marketing and promotion, as if they had self-published. Some small presses give marketing support, like sending out review copies to various review sites or sponsoring group tables at events.
The other big advantage of a small press is the supportive network of authors that come along with the signed contract. I love my Crescent Moon and Wild Rose families, where the authors are actively sharing ideas and working together to support one another.
Tell us about your path to publication.
My path to publication was long and rocky, without any great “aha” moments. Lots and lots of rejection letters from agents and publishers, and yet somehow I kept going. Kept writing, and kept bugging people about my story ideas.
I’ve accomplished a few of the goals on my ultimate list – my first contract, my first book signing, my first fan letter from someone I didn’t know, my first fan letter from an 10-year-old reluctant reader – but there are still plenty of goals I have yet to achieve. The road doesn’t end at being published.
What tips or recommendations do you have for aspiring authors?
Write. Sit down and write. Set goals for yourself, either word counts or hours per week, and meet those goals. Sign up for a class or find a critique group at your local library, to share your work and have someone you’re responsible to. Read writing blogs and columns like mine for tips on writing and trends in the industry. And make sure you have a second set of eyes read over your pages before you send them to any agents or publishers!
But most of all, write. You can’t be an author if you’re not a writer.
Katie, thank you so much for being on the blog today and for all the great insights.
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