ï»¿ï»¿ Kara Lennox is the bestselling author of more than fifty published novels of romance and romantic suspense. She has been published by Silhouette and Bantam Books as Karen Leabo, and currently writes for the Harlequin American Romance, Silhouette Desire and Signature Select lines as Kara Lennox. Some of her more popular series for the American Romance line are How to Marry a Hardison and Blond Justice.
When lies turn to attempted murder, they must hunt down the truth togetherâ€¦to prove her innocence, protect an honest man and save both their lives.
Q) You have an amazing backlist of books that spans two decades. How do you continue to generate new and fresh ideas?
A) Actually, sometimes I’ll be brainstorming a book, and I’ll say to myself, “This is good. This is really … oh, wait, I already wrote that book.” And certain themes appear over and over in my books. (For instance, my heroines are often struggling with independence vs. commitment–because it’s a struggle I find to be endlessly rich.) But I never seem to run out of ways to spin a story. I like to be inspired by nonfiction stories, I eavesdrop everywhere I go, and everything I read or see has the potential to inspire a story. I keep notebooks full of snippets of dialogue or interesting characters, pictures, ideas for settings, interesting jobs. I don’t organize it, just leave through them sometimes to see what strikes me.
Q) Your work has been primarily geared towards series romance. In your opinion, what advantages does publishing as part of a series have over single title publication?
Series romance offers lots of advantages. It’s a great place for a new author because there is a built-in audience. By writing shorter books, you have the opportunity to publish more titles, which gets and keeps your name out in front of the readers. And although I wouldn’t say royalties are ever “predictable,” the payouts are perhaps a little less erratic and you can make some estimates as to what you’ll earn on a given book. The specific requirements and guidelines for each line give the author a framework to build on, so you don’t have to reinvent the whole wheel each time you write a book. Harlequin does a great job publishing foreign editions (and selling sub rights) so your book lives on in many different editions for years to come. And if you are very prolific, or you have more than one kind of books you like to write, Harlequin can accommodate you.
Q) What is your process for self-editing your manuscript before you submit it?
It varies from book to book. Some books just write cleanly from beginning to end, so I might only do one edit plus one polish. Others are just disastrous from the start and I end up ripping them up, rearranging parts, throwing out whole chapters. I usually make one pass through the rough draft and make notes on what has to be done, then work up a game plan so I can schedule my time and not miss any deadlines. My husband will read the manuscript when I’m done, and I will go through one last time to address his comments.
Q) Are you a planner or a pantser?
I’m definitely a planner. I outline everything ad nauseum. I love structure, I love pulling apart stories to see how they work (or why they don’t work).
Q) What does your writing work day/schedule look like?
I write Monday through Friday, usually in the mornings. I try to get my page count done before lunch and leave the afternoons for other writing-related activities (research, judging contests, online classes, proofreading galleys. It doesn’t always work that way; sometimes it takes me all day to get those pages written. As a deadline approaches I’ll put in more hours, evenings and weekends, but I try to keep a sane work schedule. I’m not one who thrives on deadline pressure.
Q) What advice would you give a new writer who is looking for a career in publication?
Just keep showing up. Selling that fist book involves hitting the right editor with the right material at the right time. So your chances are increased the more you write and the more you send out. Keep trying to get better. Try different things; write in different genres to keep yourself motivated and challenged. Read writing books and take classes. Network and attend conferences. Immerse yourself in it. Just in the past couple of years I’ve had a lot of friends make that first sale after working at it for many years, so don’t give up or think it won’t happen for you. I have a stack of rejections that could choke a horse, collected both before and after I sold my first book. Keep improving your craft and keep sending stuff out.
Brenda Parrish is a member of OCC/RWA and is currently hard at work at her own fiction. She recently finaled in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Contest! You can follow her on Twitter @itsBrenï»¿ï»¿