Today, ladies and gentlemen, I have the incomparable Katrina Monroe here to talk about her life as a writer. Check it out:
Katrina’s short work has been published in Open Book Toronto, Shadowbox Magazine, and the YA anthology, UNLOCKED. She lives in Minnesota with her partner and two small monsters where she tries to write while avoiding snow, moose, and the occasional Canadian goose. Her first novel REAPER is expected to be released in August 2014 from Melange Books.
Let's start with the basics: tell me about your writer self.
What is process for sitting down to write? Coffee, movie soundtracks in the background... but that's only on days I have to myself. Those are few and far between. Mostly, it's about recognizing a free moment when I see it, pulling up the WIP, and getting to work. People always say the hardest part is getting your butt in the chair; that is so true, especially without coffee.
How about editing? This changes with every book. With REAPER, I edited as I went, putting all my drafts into one. It was a short book, so it worked, but I don't reccomend it for more plot-woven stories. for SACRIFICIAL LAMB CAKE, I went through several drafts before sending to beta readers. My most recent WIP (which I've JUST finished, as in moments ago) I plan to take it one agonizing step at a time--outline the chapters, dig deep into character motivations and scene purpose--before moving on to the next phase.
Cover art? I leave this to the professionals. I've been lucky enough to find publishers with excellent design departments.
Specifically with Sacrificial Lamb Cake: what was your process for publication? I submitted to agents first, but because of the touchy subject matter, it wasn't picked up. I then moved on to small press publishers and found a GREAT home for it with Red Adept Publishing. The owner is accessible and helpful and she's got a crack team of editors and cover designers. Over the course of prepping for publication I worked with several people, all of whom seemed truly excited about my book. It's been a fantastic experience.
Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses? One horse-sized duck, if only because I want to see that thing try to run.
Are you a NaNoWriMo...er? Does that make you a plotter or pantser? Used to NaNo, then I realized the pressure I put on myself only stunted my goals, rather than push me to achieve them. I'm not afraid of deadlines, but I know my pace and 50k in one month is not it. As for plotting/pantsing, I do a little of both. I plot very basic bones of a story so I at least have a vague idea of where I'm going, a bit like a crudely drawn map on the back of a napkin by a drunk, but then I let my imagination take me where it wants to. The book I've just finished the first draft of started out as a comedy, now it's got a mystery edge to it. If I box myself in early, I lose interest.
So you've published independently and traditionally, yes? Technically, but the indi published stuff is in anthologies, not full novels.
How did that go down? I was suckered into it. They had candy.
Is there one you prefer? Why? While I like the draw of indi publishing--the control you have over your work-- I know my limits. I don't have the up front funds for a good editor or cover designer, so I rely on publishing houses to do that work for me. The more I learn about the industry, I may branch out--I'm considering a short story anthology of my own--but for now, I prefer the traditional route.
You've said that Christopher Moore is an author who inspires you. Who or what else makes you want to write or keep writing? Mostly, it's just What I Do. I like making things up. I like imagining. I like taking a "what if" and turning it into a story. It sounds awful, but when I real something that's not exactly stellar, it motivates me to keep going. I think, I can do better than this, and I sit down to do it.
What's next for this writer? More writing, more crying... hopefully not at the same time.
And of course, any advice for unpublished writers? Don't stop, and don't settle. If you've got a book you want to publish, don't throw it out into the Amazon void JUST to have a book in print. There's no time limit here. Edit the shit out of it, make others edit the shit out of it, love it, kill it, and then love it again. AND THEN research your publishing options. Indi? Great. Find professionals to work with. Traditional? Great. Dig into the records of those agents and publishers you want to be the champions for your book. Once you sign that contract, you're in for quite a long haul and you don't want to torture yourself with a miserable experience.