I am excited to welcome author Kristen Miller, who is celebrating the release of her second San Francisco Wolf Pack novel, Beauty and the Werewolf.
Unmated werewolves don’t normally live past three hundred years old…and billionaire Jack MacGrath is cutting it close. Sure, he has almost everything—the respect of his peers, a mansion in San Francisco, a private jet, and fast cars. But without a mate, Jack’s in trouble. Then he sees her. Gorgeous, proud…and his enemy.
Isabelle Connelly is good at hiding things from her father. Like her success as a painter, or the incredibly intense attraction she has to Jack MacGrath. After all, she’s royalty and falling for anyone lesser—to say nothing of a rival pack—would be, er, unseemly. Now she must choose between her duty to her family and her pack…or her perfect fated mate.
My First Stab at Creative Writing: An Epic Failure That Wasn’t
Sometimes I feel as if I’m the only author who wasn’t born with a tale to tell. I wasn’t the student drafting stories in journals while teachers were instructing, or scribbling raw ideas when I should’ve been studying. While I always loved reading and writing, my emphasis was on grammar, sentence structure, and essays. (If I expressed how much I loved writing my master thesis, I’d escalate to Geek Level 5, so I won’t. <wink>)
I had never given any thought to creative writing until my husband suggested I find a good book to read. Well, at least that’s how it started. I wandered through Barnes and Noble, searching the shelves for a story that would grab me. A very specific book set in a faraway city. Because I started the hunt for the perfect book in winter, I wanted rain and snow on the page. An added love triangle, maybe? Tension, mystery, and heartbreak were three must-haves. Oh yeah. That’s what I wanted.
After a tireless search (and three Starbucks coffees later), I realized the book didn’t exist.
Without knowing how to plot, character map, divide a book into acts, or any of the other “helpful” tools that authors seemed to be using, I started pecking away at the keyboard.
I was going to write the book I wanted to read.
I typed at night, after my two little kids went to sleep. (I had a three year old and one year old at the time, so my days were consumed with baby and home duties.) Those two or three hours at the keyboard became “me time”. I cherished the hours when I could slip back into the story, and counted down until I could dive into it again.
In three months, I had finished the first (and only) draft of my first book titled, Nine Days in Joliet.
I thought it was gold. It had a beginning, middle, and end, after all. And hey, there was witty dialogue here and there, along with some broken hearts my heroine left along the way. There was also a young woman returning home for the first time since college, a fatal car accident, a Marine going to war, love triangles, secret babies, convenient misunderstandings, and a surprise proposal.
It was a clusterfu—well, you know—of tropes.
Still, I thought I might’ve had something worth selling.
Since there was love and heartbreak on the page, I assumed my book could only be a classified as a romance novel. Heh. Little did I know. With my story printed (all three-hundred-fifty pages of it) and tucked away in my bag, I took off to Romance Writers of America’s national conference to land an agent, and sell the book to a New York Publisher.
Hey, a girl could dream of the process being that easy, right?
The first night, I had a chance meeting in the hotel bar with a reputable agent. Allow me to break down the conversation:
“What do you write?” he asked, even though he had a million pitches early the next morning.
I beamed. This was my chance to impress him. “I think I write romance.”
I nodded enthusiastically, my heart bursting out of my chest. But when the agent’s brow furrowed, doubt trickled in.
“You should know if it’s a romance,” he said simply. “By whether or not the hero and heroine live happily ever after at the end.”
“Oh.” My heart faltered. “My hero leaves for war and dies in battle before my heroine can tell him how she really feels. It’s horribly tragic.”
Chuckling, the agent refocused on his drink. “Then it’s not a romance.”
“But the heroine is secretly pregnant with his child,” I rambled on, desperate to save the impromptu pitch, “so his love is still growing inside her. And every time she looks into the little girl’s eyes, she’ll see the love of her life. He’ll still be with her…always.”
The agent spun toward me, clasped his hands in his lap, and narrowed his eyes. “You may be a storyteller at heart, but to sell your book you must know where to shelve it in bookstores. It can be the best story out there, but if the publishing company doesn’t know how to market it, the book will flop.”
In my haste to write something—anything—I’d stupidly forgotten that publishing was a multi-billion dollar business. There was no room for uncertainty, especially on the part of the author.
In the grand ranking of romance novels, Nine Days in Joliet was an epic failure. Thus far, it’s the only story I’ve written that I haven’t sold. In fact, only three people have read it: me, my stalwart beta reader, and her romance-novel-devouring mother. Structurally speaking, it’s the worst novel I’ve written, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s not gold, like I thought it was at first, but it’s not garbage, either. It still holds value in the sense that it allowed me to do everything wrong, so I could then discover the pieces that were right.
I’ve written twenty-two titles in the seven years since then, and have been published with HarperCollins/Avon, Entangled, and Harlequin. I’ve studied the business as heavily as the craft, and haven’t looked back since.
Will Nine Days in Joliet ever see the light of day? No, I’m certain it won’t, much like the Marine from my story will never make it home to see the woman and child waiting for him. But my love for the process of creative writing is what grew in my heart out of that story. And that is what has carried me to where I am today.
Meet Kristen Miller!
New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Kristin Miller writes sweet and sassy contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance of all varieties. Kristin has degrees in psychology, English, and education, and taught high school and middle school English before crossing over to a career in writing. She lives in Northern California with her alpha male husband and their two children. She loves chocolate way more than she should and the gym less. You can usually find her in the corner of a coffee shop, laptop in front of her and mocha in hand, using the guests around her as fuel for her next book.
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