I am delighted to welcome Kelsey Stone to my blog today to discuss her trials with critique groups and her road to becoming traditionally published.
ER Your latest project, a book, is Sabiak’s Creed. What inspired you to write science fiction? The genre’s obviously one you love.
KS I have a very eclectic literary taste, and so it took me a while to find my voice. I started off writing suspense. Before I began working on my writing career, I spent five years in law enforcement and I drew on my experiences and heartaches to write my first novel, but I fizzled out. Even though I managed to finish the story, I was stuck. I didn’t write anything else for almost a year. The characters and words still played in my head, it just took me a while to realize that those characters and those stories were rarely confined to this world and when I’d chained myself to a non-speculative genre, I’d drained the energy out of my imagination.
For me, science fiction operates much like a parable. I can tackle pressing issues in a manner that is less threatening for the reader and hopefully reveal some truths about the world we live in and what it means to be human. It’s kind of like being a scientist. I can isolate certain aspects of society and humanity and really dig in with the what-ifs.
ER Becoming published is not an easy task. Even before you’re ready to take that step, there are so many stages during the writing. Do you send your work to critique groups? How do you find that part of the process?
KS I am blessed to be a member of two fantastic critique groups, two amazingly talented editing partners, and one extremely argumentative writing group. It took me a long while to get to the point where I was capable of sharing my work. It was my passion for my stories and my determination to produce the very best story possible that finally pushed me to look for feedback, that and the gentle prodding of a couple of close friends who did their best to slay my insecurities.
I started the writing group in a quest for feedback. Originally, I had hoped that it would grow into a finely oiled critiquing machine, but that just wasn’t in the cards. There are too many strong personalities, and because of that, everyone was afraid to share their work. I did find one of my critique partners in that group, however, and I absolutely love the debates the group gets into, even if we aren’t particularly productive. The critique groups that I participate in found me through my writing platform and invited me to join them. As my writing network has grown, I have been presented with opportunities to grow my skill and craft.
With Sabiak’s Creed, I wanted a professional opinion before I sent it off, so I found and carefully vetted a freelance editor. The experience was incredible, and my writing grew profoundly during the couple of months we spent working on my manuscript.
ER Once your manuscript is finished, the road to publication is, or can be, a long one. Agents are reviewing Sabiak’s Creed at present. Finding an agent can be difficult too. Have you learned anything along the way that might help other writers?
KS The most important trait a writer can have is tenacity. The odds of an agent liking your book are about as good as have the same taste in food as a random stranger off the street. Not everyone is going to like your writing, and that is okay. Rejection is part of the writing process, no matter the type of publishing you pursue. A writer needs to learn how to move on and keep at it.
You can increase your odds by researching agents carefully. Find agents who you think will enjoy your story and tell them why you think they will enjoy your story in your query letter. Personalization is the key to getting agents to take notice.
ER Why did you decide traditional publication over Indie publication?
KS The biggest factor in my decision to attempt traditional publication is actually my own limitations. I am in awe of many of my writing friends who are Indie authors. They do it all: writing, formatting, publishing, and marketing. At this point, I am just not talented enough to balance all of those hats well. Also, I want my novel to reach the widest audience possible, and traditional publishing offers the best opportunity to get a large readership. Finally, I would love to build my craft and skill enough to write literary fiction, and about the only chance I would have to find an audience for that kind of writing is through traditional publishers. The benefit of pursuing traditional avenues is that it has forced me to be more reflective about my writing.
ER Would you ever consider Indie publishing?
KS Absolutely! In fact, I do plan to pursue Indie publishing in the future with specific manuscripts. At this point, I just feel like I have a ton left to learn and refine before I am ready for that step. In the meantime, as I learn to navigate the literary world, I plan to continue querying agents and trying to get traditionally published. It doesn’t cost me anything, except, perhaps, a few tears over rejection letters, and it has already led me down unexpected paths and grown my writing in new ways.
ER What are you working on now?
KS Sabiak’s Creed is complete, but I am planning on taking another few passes to polish it even further. When I get stuck on new stories, I take a break and do an editing pass. It is the first in a series, and I have two more novels in the series written and am working on revising those right now, as well. I have also started a new project that melds science fiction and anthropology, but it is in the very first stages of writing and has a lot of growing to do. Whenever I need a break or need to feel the ecstasy of completing a project, I spend some time on short stories and poetry. My hope is to eventually have some polished shorter pieces that I can submit in competitions and to journals.
Thank you so much, Kelsey, for joining me today. It’s been a pleasure.
Check out what Kelsey Stone has to say about writing and peruse her short stories on www.tibetanlemon.com or connect with her on facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorkelseystone/ or on Twitter or Instagram as @scifistone