WG: Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
KO: I grew up in the country outside a small town in Wisconsin. I moved to Texas at the age of fifteen and graduated from high school here. I've known since I was ten that I wanted to be a writer, but at that point I had no idea of what type of writer I wanted to be. I knew fiction, of course, but beyond that I was clueless. I took every creative writing class offered to me throughout junior high, high school, and college, for a total of fourteen different creative writing classes during those years. I've been married for almost eighteen years and have a twelve-year-old son, named Keifer. We also adopted the most obnoxious dog on the face of the earth, and her name is Kippa, but I tend to refer to her as my frogdog.
WG: Let's talk about your own personal road to publication: Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.
KO: I can still remember sitting in my fourth grade class, while my teacher read our stories we'd written aloud. When the other students laughed at the story I'd made up in my head, it gave me greater joy than anything in life prior to that. I decided that day I would become a writer.
WG: Tell us about your journey.
KO: Up until five years ago, I was in a constant cycle of writing books and throwing them away when I got a new computer. I never remembered to email them to myself first. I'd just start over with something new. I would write, and I would always think about sending it to a publisher, but I never had the courage to do it. I didn't have the kind of belief in myself required to put myself out there. Five years ago, I acquired a book on how to self-publish a book. It was short and didn't contain a ton of information, but I read that book over and over. I took the completed manuscript that was already sitting on my computer just waiting for me to do something with it, and I edited it. Over and over. Then I made the world's ugliest cover. It took me two weeks to get my first sale (partially, because I only knew to upload to Smashwords). That sale changed my world. Someone thought a story I made up in my head was good enough to pay money for. Something in my head was worth something! So I wrote another. And another. And another. Let's not talk about how many books I've written in the past five years.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
KO: Oh, hundreds. No, none of them have sold since, because they were thrown away. Sad, isn't it?
WG: How has being a published author impacted your life?
KO: More than anything I would say it's given me a sense of self-confidence that I'd never dreamed I would have. I now believe that there's something inside me worth having and worth being. Who could ask for more than that?
WG: What aspect of life as a 'published author' surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?
KO: Definitely the fans. My fans read and re-read and then re-read again. They know my books so much better than I do. Sometimes one of them will message me a favorite quote from a book, and I'll have no idea what book it was in or that I'd even written it. They humble me.
WG: What about your writing procedure? Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
KO: My schedule is like no one else's, because my life is like no one else's. My husband homeschools our twelve-year-old son, so that means all three of us are home together twenty-four hours per day. I tend to start writing around ten pm, after the house has started getting quiet. I work until I've met whatever goal I make for myself. It's not uncommon for my writer friends to be waking up and messaging me online as I'm finishing the last of my words for the day.
WG: Do you set writing goals for yourself?
KO: Absolutely. I have a goal every single day. Usually between 6-10k words. Sometimes more, but rarely less.
WG: Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
KO: I do nothing like that, but if I get stuck, I find water. A lake, a river, the ocean. Whatever it takes. I will go and spend an hour or two by the water, and the characters will be in my head screaming at me to write them once again.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
KO: I'm more of a pantser. I'll do a VERY basic plot. This should happen in chapter one. This should happen in chapter two. And I'm always off-script by chapter four.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
KO: Usually the characters. They tend to write themselves if you make them real enough.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories?
KO: Almost every book I've ever written is a marriage of convenience. I don't know why, but I love them. That's why I started with mail order brides. I love the trope, and I write it constantly.
WG: What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?
KO: My work ethic. People always ask me how I do as much as I do, and so often when I describe my schedule, I'm told that what I do is 'too hard.' Writing is hard. It's work. It's putting your butt in that chair every single day or forcing words from your brain. Anyone who tells you differently is a liar.
WG: Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?
KO: Oh, so many. Where to start? I've addressed my schedule problems. I guess for me the book I want to write is not always the book I should write. I came home from a convention two weeks ago, and my writing schedule for the next month was already planned out in detail. But I had a book that needed to be written. It was keeping me awake nights, and I couldn't ignore it. So I wrote it. Of course, that doesn't help the other deadlines that have been promised. I've written two books in the past thirteen days with hands that are just aching from carpal tunnel. But the books are done. Now I'm taking a few days off before I start the next.
WG: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?
KO: My process is to look at writing as a job. Period. This is what I do. It's not my hobby. I don't wait for inspiration or my muse to strike. It's work, and I can work hard to make my future what I want it to be.
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?
KO: Right now I'm enjoying writing contemporary romances. I still write some historicals, but the contemporary have captured my heart. I don't think it's just that they're contemporary, though. I think it's the specific series of them I'm writing. As a reader, I have a few favorite authors. Anything they write, I will read.
WG: Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?
KO: Vikings. Historical Scotland!
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication
KO: Just do it. I'm a very proud indie writer. You don't need a big publisher to take you on to write a good book.
WG: Is there a specific 'ah-ha' moment you've had as a writer that you would like to share with us?
KO: At first, I could see the competition among authors. As if everyone thought they had to fight for the limited amount of readers that were available. The moment that I realized that helping others would help me, and vice versa, was my eye-opener. Readers are voracious. Just because I mention author Sally Jones in my newsletter, doesn't mean they won't buy my book.
WG: Rejections, less than stellar reviews and notes from unhappy readers are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?
KO: I just try to keep reminding myself that those people are not my audience. I have found my audience, and they tend to love everything I throw at them.
WG: Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?
KO: For me the most rewarding part is those little notes from fans. The ones that tell me they had a really rough day, so they re-read one of my books. The ones that tell me they found my books while they were going through chemotherapy, and they'd only read my books during treatments, so they began to look forward going to chemo. The thing I struggle with the most is how much less time I have. I went from being a stay at home mom to a full time author overnight. I don't have the time to read that I used to have. I don't have the time to spend with my son. I finished a book last night, and he was just planning what we're going to do with the four days I'm forcing myself to take off work. He's planning every minute, because he's so excited to finally get some mom-time.
WG: When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?
KO: Okay, I have a television show that I watch over and over and over. It's a television version of the book When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke. I'm obsessed with it, but don't tell my husband I admit it!
WG: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
KO: A writer.
WG: What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
KO: I think that I have trouble being the center of attention. I have this reputation (probably from online interactions) of being an extrovert, when all I really want is to spend all day every day in my jammies, with no bra, pretending the outside world doesn't exist. I *hate* to leave my house.
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
KO: When Calls the Heart, Lois and Clark, and Notting Hill are the ones that come to mind. I'm a sucker for a romance. All of those have a romance that makes you laugh, cry, and sigh happily at the end of the day.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.
KO: "Anyone who tells you you're writing wrong is a lying bitch." - Nora Roberts. I think that one is self-explanatory.
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
KO: I just finished writing Bakers' Bargain Culpepper Cowboy book 5. Merry Farmer and I are sharing this series, and the conflict in this one is all internal. Merry and I had a tougher time writing books 5 & 6 than we did the previous books in the series. I think it's just a matter of making sure they all mesh together, but both of us remarked how hard these two have been!
WG: Tell us about your upcoming plans.
KO: I have another book half-written called Evelyn, which will be the fifth book in my Orlan Orphan series. I think it will be out after I return from my next conference, so probably end of the month. I might surprise everyone and do it next week, though!
WG: And before we close, tell us how readers can get in touch with you.
KO: Readers can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter (@authorkosbourne ) or contact me via email at KirstenOsbourne@gmail.com
WG: Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!