Today we have Katherine Locke on Taking 10 talking about her latest book, Finding Center! Katherine is represented by Louise Fury of the Bent Agency and the author of three books, Turning Pointe (prequel to Second Position), Second Position, and Finding Center, all of which are published by Carina Press!
Now, if you haven’t met Katherine on Twitter by now, please stop what you’re doing, go follow her, and come back. If you’ve ever seen the handle, @bibliogato, well, that’s her! To be honest, I knew her Twitter handle before I knew her because her tweets always managed to resonate with me, or even just made me laugh! She is not only generous with words of encouragement and inspiration, but she’s just an all around nice person. We could all use a few more Katherine’s hanging out in our Twitter feeds, or even in our living rooms, for that matter. Invite her over for a chai latte, I’m sure she’d appreciate that! Now, let’s have a look at Finding Center!
Zed and ballet are my two greatest loves.
But a tragic accident ripped them from Aly’s life six years ago and it took all her strength to get them back. She’s had a long road to recovery and has returned, dancing full-time for The District Ballet Company and carrying Zed’s child. But Aly is slipping. Each day becomes a fight to keep her career from crumbling under the weight of younger talent, the scrutiny of the public eye, and the limitations of her ever-changing body. A fight she fears she’s losing.
I’m scared Aly is broken to her core.
Zed recognizes signs, but he doesn’t know how to fix her. The accident left him with his own demons, and while he wants nothing more than to take care of Aly, it’s getting harder the further she spirals. When Aly’s life is threatened and Zed’s injuries prevent him from saving her, he’s never felt so useless, so afraid he is no longer capable of being the man Aly and their child needs.
With new life comes new hope. And with their fractured lives already hanging by a thread, Aly and Zed must discover if they have what it takes—both together and apart—to rebuild and carry on.
Book Two of the District Ballet Company
So how am I supposed to follow a book blurb like that? I don’t know either, so how about I don’t embarrass myself and just get straight to the interview? Yeah, I think that would probably be best, too. Without further ado, gentle reader, I give you the amazing Katherine Locke…
- First, let’s talk about your most recently published novel, Finding Center! I’m always curious to know what triggered the idea for a story! How did Finding Center come about, and which came first—the premise or the main character?
Finding Center is the direct sequel of Second Position! I had always wondered what happened after Second Position and had written a few scenes just for my CPs. When my editor at Carina, the incredible Kerri Buckley, asked if I’d be interested in writing a sequel, I said yes! And of those original “just for fun” scenes, one of them survived to the final version. In romance, it’s not super common to have a direct sequel. I think what I really liked about writing Finding Center was exploring what exactly a Happily Ever After looks like, especially for Aly and Zed who had to overcome physical and mental barriers to resuming their romance. Happily Ever Afters don’t just happen—they take work and they’re journeys, not destinations.
- What’s one juicy fact about yourself readers may not already know? And please, provide tons of details!
HMMM. It’s July when I’m writing this so I have to say, I’m an avid professional cycling fan. I usually keep it under wraps for most of the year, but July is the Tour de France and that’s the best month of the year. I am positively rabid about cycling. But I do not cycle myself! (I highly recommend watching, if only for the hot guys in spandex factor.)
- What does a writing day look like for you? Do you have any habits or quirks you can share with us?
I’m a café writer, for better or for worse. It helps my focus and attention span if I feel like I’m “off to the office” and my bed is nowhere in sight. I’m just starting at a new traditional 9-5 dayjob so my writing day’s about to shift.
In the morning, I work on my freelance clients’ manuscripts for about two hours before work. And after the dayjob, I work on my own work until about 10pm.
I try to write every day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean fiction. If I’m really struggling in a book, or I’m overwhelmed by Life Stuff, I try to work on something easy—like interviews, guest blog posts, a blog post for my blog, or playing in a story that is just for me and is not ever going to be published. Something that keeps my writing brain sharp, but the pressure off.
I almost exclusively drink chai lattes as my caffeine and writing beverage of choice. I have to work with background noise or music, especially music with lyrics. When I’m revising (my own work), I pick a song with non-English lyrics and put it on loop. That way I don’t get distracted by the words and it kind of puts my brain in this meditative space.
- What do you do when you’re faced with “no-writing-feels”—those days all writers face where we’re certain we’re not meant for this writing-thing?
Oof! Those are hard days. Know that published writers of all levels and experiences get them too. You aren’t the only one. That helps, I think! I try to write every day, but especially this year with releasing two books and a novella, I’m learning to take the pressure off myself a little bit. If I can’t get myself to work on one of my books-to-be-published, or everything in those books feels pointless and bad, I write blog posts, or fanfiction, or work on one of the two stories I keep “just for me”. I also think it’s really really important for writers to recharge, and to know how they recharge. Everyone recharges differently. I am not a good TV binge watcher, but it helps me to know that after I get a certain amount of writing work done, I’m going to watch an episode of Orphan Black or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or Ascension (my current TV favorites). I also take walks and chat, in real life not just on the internet!, to other writers. If I’m not on deadline, I’ll let myself jump between projects as long as I’m making forward progress.
- What’s your favorite writing resource—or the one you simply can’t live without?
I’m cheating and saying two! I absolutely love Pub(lishing) Crawl, a website for writers by writers, and Susan Dennard’s Writing Resources. Pub Crawl is just a gem of a website with a lot of different resources. Specifically, the One Page Synopsis tutorial on there is digital gold for writers. Susan, of course, wrote it! Susan Dennard, beyond being a brilliant, talented writer who is also incredibly kind, has a writing resources tab on her website and a GREAT newsletter called Misfits & Daydreamers. I really hope Sooz writes a craft book one day because I will be first in line to buy it. Until then, hit up her website for revision tips, pep talks, what happens when you get stuck, character building, writing realistic romance, and subscribe to her newsletter for even more tips.
- We hear a lot about the intense revisions writers go through with their agents, and then again with their editor once the manuscript has been acquired. Can you share what the revision process was like for you and Finding Center?
Sure! Finding Center was acquired on proposal—they had all of Second Position and were interested in a sequel. So I wrote a proposal in May, and then started to write the book in August. I submitted it to my editor in December and we started edits on it in May. Because Carina Press is a digital first press, we work on very short deadlines and everything happens much faster than in print publishing. So I had about 15 days to do developmental edits, which in Finding Center’s case meant pulling two subplots, and then elevating a subplot into a stronger external conflict. My editor is absolutely brilliant and I trust her implicitly, so after getting the edit letter and then having a short chat with her on the phone with my plan of attack, we didn’t need more than one round of developmental edits. I think Second Position might have had two? Or I did two rounds of line edits. I know these characters very well at this point, so I rarely have character issues, but I really had to work on stronger conflict.
- One of the least written about topics is the submissions process itself. Can you share what that process was like for you once you and your agent decided Finding Center was ready? How did you stay sane while on submission?
Finding Center was acquired on a proposal so it actually wasn’t on submission! I got off easy for this one 😉
- What were a couple of your biggest surprises about the publishing process itself?
Two things. One, how much marketing a writer still has to do herself even when she’s not self-publishing. Marketing is NOT my strong suit and I still feel like I have absolutely no idea what’s working, what’s not working, what I should be doing better…I really need to take a course on this or something. And two, how much of my writing time I’d lose to writing-business-related-things each week. I thought it’d be about 20%, but it’s much closer to 50%. Keeping my website updated (it’s currently not. Oops), emailing agent and editor, planning future projects and making sure they are in everyone’s pipelines, working on blog tour stuff, going to conferences, etc. That comes out of writing time. I’m still learning how to balance all of that! Hopefully it’ll be a bit easier after Finding Center’s release!
- If you could whisper in the ear of the writer reading this, what ONE piece of wisdom would you share with them?
Malinda Lo actually told me this on Twitter a few years ago when I was still an aspiring writer writing crappy dystopian books 😉 “Keep slogging through.” Learning to finish drafts, even when they are bad, is the single most important thing an aspiring writer can do. You cannot fix what isn’t written. You can’t get critiqued, you can’t query, you can’t dream of publication until you learn how to finish drafts. So keep slogging through!
- What’s next for Finding Center and its illustrious author?
Good question! I have lots of projects I’m sending out into the world over the next few months so I’m hopeful for all of them. I’m looking forward to a quiet and productive fall and fingers crossed for good news on the book front soon!
Thanks so very much, Katherine! Don’t miss out on a chance to win an e-copy of Katherine’s latest book, Finding Center! All you have to do is tweet the message shown in Rafflecopter by midnight on August 16th and you’re entered!
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Katherine Locke lives and writes in a very small town outside of Philadelphia, where she’s ruled by her feline overlords and her addiction to chai lattes. She writes about that which she cannot do: ballet, time travel, and magic. When she’s not writing, she’s probably tweeting. She not-so-secretly believes most stories are fairy tales in disguise. She can be found online at http://www.katherinelockebooks.com and on Twitter: @bibliogato.