Our guest today is Kimber An, a novelist of longstanding, she's still seeking the elusive publisher and/or agent. This lady isn't sitting still waiting for them to come to her. She's on the hunt and I think she'll be bagging some big game real soon.
Visit Kimber's websites:
Star Captains' Daughter - The Blog
Kimber's MySpace Page
Marva: Hi, Kimber. I know that Kimber An is your nom de plume. Could you tell my readers how you decided on that name?
Kimber: Kimber is the first part of my real name. I wanted a short surname which began with ‘A’ and quickly settled on ‘An’ because it sounded so elegant. I was delighted to learn later that it means ‘Peace’ in Chinese and Vietnamese. Asian mythology and culture never cease to inspire me!
Marva: You're writing a series about a hyperactive girl named Junior, who happens to be the daughter of a Star Captain. Could you give us your query hook for Star Captains' Daughter?
Kimber: Actually, you’re only part right, Marva. I’ve written a novel about TWO star captains who have a hyperactive teenager nicknamed Junior because she’s so much like her father. This is a Science Fiction Romance novel. If you’re unfamiliar with that subgenre, check out www.linneasinclair.com and www.susangrant.com for my two favorite published authors in it. Both have new novels out and they are both stellar human beings besides! While the STAR CAPTAINS’ DAUGHTER is a stand-alone novel, it is also the first in a trilogy and one in a series which just keeps popping more stories into my head as I go along trying to mind my own business. Here is the hook:
‘Captain Olivia O’Keefe accepted the destruction of her marriage to Captain Edward Delano to avoid war. She never imagined their secret baby girl would grow up to wreak havoc on the galaxy trying to reconcile them. Now a Menelaen prince has a telepathic lock on Junior and saving her soul could set off a new interstellar war.’
Marva: Tell us all about SCD and what's going on in SCD2. Here's your chance to tell my readers why they should become your reader.
Kimber: ‘The STAR CAPTAINS’ DAUGHTER is quite different from anything out there, even in my own subgenre.
For starters, it’s a triangular story rather than the traditional hero-and-heroine of other romances. Junior is a fully involved protagonist. She cannot be cut from the story or it will fall apart. Likewise, this story cannot be done Young Adult either. Junior’s parents’ reconciliation is everything to her. Their love story is essential and can only be told well enough by including their points of view.
Secondly, this is an Enduring Love story. Not a couple’s first meeting and falling in love. Edward and Olivia were happily married, and their marriage was torn apart from the outside. Emotionally shattered, Edward broke out of the stockade and exiled himself in the Menelaen Empire. It’s only Junior learning about this and sacrificing everything which finally redeems this couple.
Finally, this is a Working Mother’s love story. For reasons which baffle me, powerful heroines are rarely cast as involved mothers. Having been a Certified Professional Nanny, I know assuming a powerful heroine can’t also be a mommy is absolute crap. I worked for several in real life and loved and respected them all dearly. A while back it was assumed that mommies can’t be sexy either, but that attitude’s changed. I’m hoping fiction will catch up with real life in this respect too.
It’s difficult to say much about SCD-2, since it’s still being Slashed & Burned into a comprehensible draft.
Marva: You're seriously going after agents. Lots of writers are kind of lost on this. What's your research process? Had any kick-yourself moments you'd like to warn other writers to avoid when they're querying?
Kimber: Last August, I researched the process as much as I could and just plunged into it. I consider that first wave of queries purely an educational exercise. I learned so much I couldn’t have until I actually went into it. For my second wave which began in February, I had completely revised the manuscript, query, and synopsis. And then I just plunged again.
I’ve had a few kick-yourself moments, but I can honestly say they weren’t my fault. The fact is every agent wants something different in the query submission package. Some only want a query letter, while others want pages and/or a synopsis. Of those, some want short queries, some want longer ones. Right after I sent off the last queries, I popped into the Knight Agency’s blog in my on-going effort to self-educate. In that day’s column, the agent talked about how she wanted to know if the writer blogged and if she personally knew published authors. No reflection on the Knight Agency here. They’re wonderful and I didn’t query them. But, I was screaming! I had been advised not to mention I had a blog, even though I’d had over a thousand visitors at that point. And in nanny school we were taught never, ever to name-drop or talk about people in the public eye. Well, I would have told the agents about my blog, but I still can’t bring myself to name-drop without direct permission. I’m sure the school director would hunt me down and whack me over the head with her magic umbrella. I also don’t want to ask the authors I know for recommendations or permission to mention their names. I don’t want them to think I only value them for what they can do for me. Anyway, the queries are out. I have no way of knowing which agents feel the same as the Knight Agency and which ones don’t. In the end, you just have to learn as much as you can and take your best shot.
Marva: I know you're also a reviewer on your blog (Tuesday Speed-Read). Since you're a speed-reader, you manage to chow down on several books each week. What is your review process? Take notes while reading? Read the whole thing, then note your thoughts? How do you decide what to review?
Kimber: I try to find booklists on the Internet and elsewhere. I also visit the blogs of authors, aspiring authors, and agents who regularly feature new releases. Then, I hit the bookstore or library. I speed-read the first couple of pages and bring home the ones which snag my interest. At the computer, I speed-read and fill out a little form on each book. Usually, this goes easily. Sometimes, I’ll be doing a book that loses me and I toss it. Other times, I do a book which is soooo good that I can’t speed-read it. I set that one aside for normal human reading. Once complete, I post it to my blog. No big deal really. I need to read a lot as part of learning about the publication business. I figured I might as well share what I learn with my Blog Buddies. The goal of Tuesday Speed-Read is to let people know about good books they might not otherwise try because they’re afraid of being disappointed. For each book, I let the potential reader know if there’s an HEA, if there is sex and how hot it is, if there’s anything really icky, or paranormal. Some people like some of those things and others don’t. But, no one wants to spend hard-earned money on one thing and get something else entirely.
Marva: Along with reviews, you've also been hosting blog parties for writers with new releases. Where did you come up with that idea?
Kimber: I read about real life Launch Parties and wanted to throw them for my mentor-type Blog Buddies. Linnea Sinclair, Susan Grant, and Gwyneth Bolton all had new releases within just a couple of weeks of each other. But, I live in Alaska and they’re spread out all over the Lower 48 states! I thought I could have an image, an interview, a drawing for a prize. That was wonderful, but it didn’t feel like a party. So, I started making stuff up in the comments section until we had a really bizarre virtual bash going on! Klingons were stalking Tribbles. Yoda barbecued Bantha Burgers with his lightsaber. The authors sent in some of their characters too. It was a blast!
Marva: Anything else you'd like to tell my readers? Have at it. 500 words or less.
Kimber: Visit my website and click on My Stories if you want to know just how many stories I’ve piled up since I wrote my first novel at age 11. I know the odds of publication are seriously stacked against me. I figure I might as well polish up my stories for submission, since I’m going to keep writing anyway. Sooner or later, something may break for me. I won’t hold my breath. I’ve learned from children that enjoying the process of anything is as important as achieving the goal.
Marva: Thanks for answering my nosy questions, Kimber. See you around Critique Circle!
Kimber: Thanks so much again, Marva. This was fun!