Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Successful Author Chat: Kendra Highley shares her path to pub story, writing advice and a chance to win a $25 gift card.

I'm thrilled the have author Kendra Highley here to share her path to publication story (spoil alert: perseverance is key!), writing advice, and her latest release The Bad Boy Bargain. Make sure you scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card and more!

Guest Post: Author Kendra Highley
I started writing toward publication in 2008. I was in English major, and had been dabbling in writing for some time, but finally had an idea that made me feel like I should be serious about it. Na├»ve enough to believe it was great (this book will never see the light of day), I subbed it to agents. 110 rejections later, I took a step back, started a new project and found a great online critique group. The second series went a little better—fifteen partial requests, six full requests, and two offers for representation. What people don’t tell you, though, is getting an agent isn’t the same as having it made. After the book failed to sell, my agent wasn’t interested in any of my other work—including Sidelined, which was ultimately my first traditionally published novel—so we parted ways and I pursued self-publishing. I had some real success in that arena, but when I heard Entangled wanted sports’ related contemporary YA, I sent in Sidelined—unagented—and the rest is history.

My writing process has slowly evolved from total pantser, to plotter, to outliner. Over time, as my craft developed, I realized how many words I had to delete by not planning ahead. I still surprise myself and the story sometimes drives in a different direction, but the discipline has helped shorten my timeline—which is good because my deadlines have become tighter, too.

One of things I do that helps is set aside time to write. My biggest blocks of writing time come on the weekends, when I try to sit down for three to four hours each day and put down as many words as I can. This isn’t the time to smooth things out. “Push the story forward, clean it up later” is my mode of attack to finish a draft on time. I do fine tuning and put down additional words during the week, so I have sense of where to go when the next weekend comes.

I don’t have many secret tips other than read in your chosen genre, find a good critique group who will push you to develop, and practice your craft. Write a little every day, even if it’s two hundred words. I’ve found a few books helpful, also: Save the Cat (plotting), Self-editing for Fiction Writers (Editing), and The Emotion Thesaurus (to help vary emotion tags). The most important thing, though, is to believe in yourself and your story. It might take time (for me, it was 4 years) before you have a piece of work polished enough to put out into the world. Don’t do it too soon—reviews are tough, and you want to be ready.

If I had a chance to do things differently, I probably wouldn’t. Everyone’s writing journey is an iterative process, and it’s as unique as leaves on a tree. What works for one writer won’t always work for another. My biggest pieces of advice is you do you—if something is working for you, don’t change it even if “conventional wisdom” says otherwise. Stay true to your story, and it’ll come out in the end. 

About The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley 
Publication Date: November 14, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush

Baseball player Kyle Sawyer has many labels: bad boy, delinquent, ladies’ man, fearless outfielder… Only one of them is actually true. But then sweet ballet dancer Faith Gladwell asks him to help wreck her reputation, and everything goes sideways. 

Faith knows a thing or two about love, and what she had with her cheating jerk of an ex wasn’t it. When he starts spreading rumors about her being an Ice Queen, Faith decides it’s time to let a little bad into her life.

Lucky for her, Kyle Sawyer—dark, dangerous, totally swoonworthy Kyle Sawyer—is landscaping her backyard over Spring Break. Shirtless. And if she can convince him to play along, “dating” Kyle will silence the rumors.

But Faith’s plan threatens to expose Sawyer’s biggest secret of all…and that’s a risk he’s not willing to take.

Disclaimer: This book contains drop-the-book-and-fan-yourself kisses…and touches. Fall in love with a bad boy at your own risk.

About the Author 

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes in everyday magic, extraordinary love stories, and the restorative powers of dark chocolate.

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