Q--Would you share your bio?
A--Josi S. Kilpack grew up hating to read until her mother handed her a copy of when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began her first novel in 1998 and hasn’t stopped. Her novel, Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney Award 2007 for Mystery/Suspense. Lemon Tart, the first book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series was a Whitney Finalist for 2009. Josi currently lives in Willard Utah with her husband, four children, one dog and varying number of chickens. For more information about Josi, you can visit her website at www.josiskilpack.com or her blog at www.josikilpack.blogspot.com
Q--Could you list for me ALL of the books you have published.
A-- Earning EternitySurrounded By Strangers
To Have or To Hold
Her Good Name
Devil’s Food CakeKey Lime Pie
Blackberry Crumble ()
Q--I know you work for Precision Editing, would you tell us a little bit about it?
A--Precision Editing is an editing company where the editors are also published authors. We do everything from line editing to ghostwriting, tucking it in between our own writing projects. It’s been a great way to hone my own abilities to revise and rewrite and, hopefully, helped other writers on their own journey. We edit the first 10 pages free. More info atwww.precisioneditinggroup.com or you can check out our blog www.writingonthewallblog.blogspot.com
Q--When did you begin writing?
A--While on bedrest with a pregnancy, I started writing a short story because I had run out of other things to do and the idleness was making me neurotic. That story grew and grew and ignited something within me that I didn’t know was there. Even when I had this 300 page story I didn’t think about publishing—publishing was just SO big. I mean, to be a novelist? I was a mom, I was a homemaker. How could someone like me publish a book? However, I’d had a great time writing that book and after the encouragement from friends I jumped into it and a year and a half later I had my first published book. For me, writing was a bend in the road I didn’t see coming, but boy has it become a journey since then.
Q--Of all the characters you have ever written, who is your favorite and why?
A--That’s a hard question to answer. My earlier characters will always have a special place in my heart—they feel the most ‘pure’ to me in that the only person’s opinion I thought about when I wrote them was me. That said, my more recent characters feel more real, more three dimensional. I have loved writing Sadie—she’s someone I would love to take a cruise with :-)
Q--Do you have a certain process you go through when you write or do you just wait for the "must" to come out of hiding?
A--I’m a sloppy writer and I tend to just sit down and write—figuring I can spend my time preparing to write or I can spend my time writing (I am not necessarily recommending that, but it’s just how I do it). Because I don’t know what I’m writing, I end up going in circles a lot or, as I call it ‘wandering around my plot’ and I end up cutting a lot of what I write because it isn’t going the right direction. I’m also a mom of four kids and therefore I don’t have a lot of structure to my writing time; I shove my writing into corners most of the time and work around my family as much as possible.
Q--What is the oddest thing, event, place, or person that has inspired you to write a story?
A--I don’t even know—I’ve been inspired by all kinds of things; a person at the mall, a newspaper story, a smell in a hotel room, a word, a flavor. I think I absorb inspiration from all around me all the time. Not all of it ends up in a book, but if it gets me going in the right direction then it counts. :-)
Q--Can you describe your road to publication? Any road blocks or speed bumps along the way?
A--I paid for part of the publication of my first book—at the time it made a lot of sense and it wasn’t until later that I realized that in this market, paying to publish your book can be a road block of it’s own. That’s not to say it was a mistake, it wasn’t, and that’s not to say that the industry hasn’t changed since then, but it put me in a certain category that I then had to fight to change. I did fight, and I’m glad I did, and I was able to make a career that I’m very happy with, but the journey has been full of road blocks and speed bumps and I have no doubt there will be more to come. The key, for me, was to figure out how the publishing industry works—that has made all the difference.
Q--How do you overcome every writer's arch-nemesis...discouragement?
A--Just keep writing. Sometimes I have to just tell myself that I can write garbage or that this is the last book I ever have to write but I have to finish it. Like every other writer I know I fight discouragement all the time and I have learned there is no magic bullet to make it go away—I just have to keep going.
Q--How has your life changed since your first book was published?
A--It’s changed in almost every way possible. I’ve had to make room for my writing, which can be a very loud and demanding houseguest. I’ve met a lot of great people, I’ve learned amazing things. I’ve developed more talents such as editing, public speaking, researching and a hundred other little things I never would have guessed. My world has become much bigger—and I’ve learned that’s not always a good thing. I’ve had to find a way to meet a deadline while a child has a crisis, or do a book signing in between a dance recital and a doctor’s appointment. I’ve also come to realize that this is part of my measure—part of the reason I am here, therefore part of my journey is finding a way to make it fit with the rest of my life. I wonder sometimes what my life would be like if I had given up the first time it was hard. I’m glad I didn’t, I can’t imagine that my soul would feel good about that choice back then.
Q--How do you balance your writing and your family?
A--The balance is a struggle every day of my life and after 12 years I still battle with it. There are times my family has suffered for my writing, and times when my writing has suffered for my family. If there is a secret to resolve that, I haven’t found it. For now, I try hard to make my family feel like they are first in line. That means I am tucking my writing into any other available time I can come up with. I write early in the morning, late at night, in small snatches throughout the day but sometimes go days and days without writing a word. I pray, a lot, for help with my writing and family and keeping the two of them afloat and fantasize about the day when I feel like I’m giving both of them the time and attention they deserve.
Q--Who is your publisher/agent and why did you choose them?
A--I publish with . I chose them because they are the largest publisher in the LDS market and have been able to make ‘career authors’ in a very small market. It was an excellent choice and I’m grateful everyday that they ‘chose’ me as well.
Q--There's a lot of talk in the blogosphere about LDS Publishing Houses vs. National Houses, do you have two cents you'd like to add to that discussion?
A--Rather than publishing houses vs. national houses I think the distinction is more LDS market and national market and market is all about who is going to read your book. If you’re book is written for a national market, LDS publishers are going to have a harder time reaching the full breadth of your market. If you write a book for the LDS market, national market publishers won’t necessarily be interested. So, who you send your book to should have everything to do with who you want to read your book.
Q--Would you share a story with us about your writing?
A--With my first book I knew nothing about how the publishing world worked and I didn’t think it mattered. I fumbled and bumbled my first three submissions. The first two publishers I submitted to rejected me with a form rejection. The third one was three pages long and very detailed in why they hated my book. I was devastated but after wallowing for a few days I read it with a new set of eyes and realized they were talking about things I didn’t understand; phrases that didn’t make sense. I realized, then, that there was more to writing a book than coming up with a story. I began learning the craft of writing because of that and though it was a painful experience, I am so grateful for it. It made all the difference.
Q--Computer or Notebook?
A--I write everything on a computer—I am certain I would never have been a writer if I had to do it by hand or by typewriter.
Q--If you could offer an aspiring author any advice, what would it be?
A--First, ask yourself why you want to write. Money isn’t a bad motivator, but most writers I know have a day job for many years as they wait for their career to take off and so if money is your only motivation, you will likely burn out before it feels like you’ve succeeded. If you want to change the world, that’s a good motivator too, but remember that there are 50,000 books published in the US every year. A lot of them are trying to change the world. The best motivation, therefore, that every writer needs is to love to write. If you love to write it can work, but if the love of it isn’t there, then you’ll make yourself crazy with unfulfilled expectations.
Second, drown yourself in writing experiences. Write anything you can, read about writing, attend writing conferences, become part of a writing group, enter writing contests, and show the people in your life that this is real by treating it as such. Writing is not easy but if it enriches your soul and gives purpose to your life, then pursue it with fervor and embrace the challenges it presents with a can-do attitude. I don’t know anyone who had a publisher knock on their door and say “I hear you like to write?” you have to be the one to put yourself out there; only then can you be discovered.
Since my next post is set for Christmas day, I'll be taking a break from Saturday Stories so the wonderful writer's I am highlighting get the attention they deserve. Saturday Stories will resume on New Year's Day.
Now for a little self-promotion....I submitted a story to LDS Publisher's Christmas Short Story Contest and I'd like to encourage everyone to go over and vote. The stories are being posted as they come in so you can head on over today and start reading. Voting starts Monday the 20th. So warm up your voting fingers and enjoy some Christmas spirit.
As for my post on Christmas Day (you can read it on the 26th or 27th since no one will be checking our blog on that sacred day) I'll post a link to the story I submitted to LDS Publisher's contest. (Voting ends on the 24th so I won't be swaying anything.) Good luck to everyone who's entered!