Saturday, July 12, 2008

Being Superwoman

If you are reading this on Saturday AM, I am in Houston, Texas, presenting to the West Houston Romance Writers of America. I'm doing a workshop on finding your inner superwoman, which includes a lot of introspection, prioritizing and goal setting. It's an up/back trip, and then I'll be flying to Dallas on Wednesday for a multi-media workshop.

I realized something this year. I had a lot of my priorities out of balance. For the past two years, writing has taken top billing over everything. I wrote six books in 18 months. I am only writing 2 this year, and I have 80 pages left to do (it's due August 1). I'm a bit of a last-minuter.

There's a lot on my plate right now. I'm joining a new church. I've given up my boyfriend of 7 years--I simply couldn't get him scheduled in and it wasn't really going anywhere anyway. We're still friends. My daughter is away at a gifted camp for kids--and she may skip the entire eighth grade and go straight into high school. I took over the school newspaper, adding to my teaching duties. I also added a weekly meeting with a personal trainer to my schedule.

I also teach full time. I go back to work July 29 and my first day with kids is Aug. 11. So I go non-stop, and this is the focus of my talk. What are your priorities, what are your goals, and how often do your goals get sideswiped by your priorities, and what you can do about it.

So I invite you to be a part of my workshop. Here are two of the eight activities the group is going to do:
Make a list of the top five things in your life with number one the most important and number five the lesser of the five. If you can, make a list of six through ten.
What is important to you? This is your mission. This is what you are about.

Next make a list of your personal strengths. Start the sentences with I am good at… I can…. People look up to me because… The key here is to realize how truly awesome you are. As my personal trainer says, you don't focus on what you can't do, but your strengths.


Friday, July 11, 2008

It takes a village

Every year during July, two events consume all of my attention. The first is the Tour de France. Since my husband and I are both cyclists (well, me not so much lately!) we’ve been obsessed with this grueling bike race for the last six or seven years. What I love about the Tour is that, to win, it’s not enough to be fast. You have to have skills in all aspects of road racing—time trailing, sprinting and climbing mountains. You have to be tough and resilient. That means three weeks of hours in the saddle, no matter the weather. You have to stay healthy. One bad day is enough to ruin your time. You have to be attentive riding inches from other riders and hurtling down mountains at 50 m.p.h., so you don’t crash.

But even heroic individual effort isn’t enough. You have to have a team, and you all have to be willing to work together, help each other get over the mountains or lead out a sprinter or travel back to the team car to get water bottles.

I guess the Tour is a lot like writing! Great writing alone isn’t enough to build a career. You have to have many skills—plotting, characters, a compelling voice, and being in tune with the market. You have to be consistent (which means writing every day even when you don’t feel like it). You have to be able to market your work.

And there’s the teamwork. I wouldn’t have sold any books without the help of my critique group, my agent, the RWA, the various editors I’ve worked with, my family, the people who print the books, distribute them, sell them, buy them. No one does it alone!

Oh, the second July event that consumes me? The RWA conference, which is sort of like our Grand Tour. It’s always fun to see who wins our “yellow jersey,” the Rita and Golden Heart awards.

PLEASE NOTE: I’m hosting a contest this month with fellow American author Victoria Chancellor. To enter, visit my website ( and click on the contest button. We’re giving away some nice prizes.

ALSO PLEASE NOTE: I haven’t received an email from the blog prize winner of last month. My e-mail server has been randomly sending emails to the trash without my ever seeing them, so please try again! Karalennox [at]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer Vacation

When I was a child, summer vacation consisted of piling into the car for a long, hot drive to Mississippi or North Carolina to visit relatives. I always looked forward to those trips, not only because I'd get to see my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, but because I'd get to see new scenery and places along the way.

This summer, with high gas prices and the increased hassles of flying, we're sticking closer to home. (Except for a trip to San Francisco at the end of the month for the Romance Writers of American conference -- we're getting there by train.)

If I can't physically travel somewhere, the next best thing for me is to read a book that will transport me to that place. My question for you today is -- if you could go anywhere on vacation this summer -- where would it be?

Since this is Harlequin American, let's keep the locales in America. Bonus points if you can match your destination with an American book. I'll go first:

Alaska. -- I've always wanted to visit our largest state.

Montana -- I love the west and can't wait to visit Big Sky Country. American has had a lot of great stories set in Montana. I loved Charlotte Maclay's Montana-set books.

Vermont -- The northeast is gorgeous, especially in the fall. I have fond memories of Anne Stuart's American romances set in Crescent Cove, Vermont. Right now, I'm really looking forward to new American author Liz Daly's trilogy set in Vermont, out (we hope) next year.

Boston -- a great, historic city -- Penny McCusker's Emmy and the Boss is a fun story set in Boston.

Washington State -- another beautiful place in a country filled with beautiful places. Ann Roth's The Pilot's Woman is a terrific way to visit this fascinating locale.

North Carolina -- I haven't been back to visit since I was 14. I'd love to go again. Lynette Kent's Smoky Mountain Reunion, out this month, is at the top of my TBR list for my vicarious visit back to my mom's home state.

Now it's your turn? Where do you want to visit -- and what books will take you there?

Monday, July 07, 2008


I get to be the first author interviewed! (Get some caffeine.)

Q: How did you make your first sale?

A: I sent a partial (3 chapters and a synopsis of the rest of the book) to the Senior Editor, Kathleen Scheibling, in response to a "call for new Harlequin American authors" piece in Romantic Times magazine. She requested the complete, then bought it! I got lucky with the timing. The line had been "revamped" and finally my voice fit.

Q: If you had to pick one word to describe your writing, what would it be?

A: I'm a writer--I can't possibly pick ONE word! LOL I have many words for the writing process, depending on how it's going, :) but I'd hope the end result is "heart-warming." If I could have another word, I'd add "fun" because families and life are both.

Q: Tell us a little about your family and where you're from.

A: I have a wonderfully supportive husband and two great kids. We live near St. Louis, MO, and love to travel. Growing up the youngest of five children gave me lots of inspiration for escapism! :) My brother gave me his GI Joe action figure when he grew out of playing with it. Joe promptly starred in all my play stories with Barbie. When I first saw Ken, I thought, "No way." That Barbie knew a good provider for her little girls when she saw him!

Q: Tell us about your book.

A: I'm really lucky to have had two books out this year. The Fake Fiancee comes out tomorrow. :) I'm thrilled to have this book accepted for publication because the mom in the story gives her all for her kids. It's nice every once in a while to remember the sacrifices moms make, which we sometimes don't even know about. Of course, the heroine's sacrifice leads her to the man she'll come to love, but even moms deserve a treat! Joe Riley needs to tread carefully with his matchmaking mom until he's reassured of her recovery from a heart attack. Caterer Lisa Meyer agrees to pretend to be his fiancée in order to earn money for a special program for her son. Joe discovers parenting is nothing like heading up a company. It's way more work! So it'll stay strictly business for Joe and Lisa--unless love can find a way.

Marrying the Boss came out last April, but it's still available online. Mark Collins is driven to prove his worth to the powerful Chicago family that adopted him so long ago. But in order to earn his place, he has to win control of the family company in a contest with his late grandfather’s illegitimate daughter. Leanne Fairbanks, a savvy competitor with her own axe to grind, yearns to show the family what they missed by ignoring her all her life. This Apprentice-like showdown is soon overshadowed by the competitors’ interest in another prize—each other.

Q: What is your writing routine?

A: Ouch. I was hoping to skip this question. ;) I'm a deadline junkie (aka a procrastinator) so I barricade myself in my office when my deadline nears. I'd like to plot; it would make my life easier. But I've tried, and I get bored with a story if I know what happens, then I don't finish it. I start with a character or an incident, then plunge blindly ahead until I type THE END. Sometimes I have a vague idea or two for scenes, and I use them as guideposts. A couple of times, I've had the last line of the book figured out, which is very exciting. In Marrying the Boss, I typed that line, but the story didn't feel complete and wound up with an epilogue, which was more satisfying an ending. Here's the last line I've envisioned for my current work: "He grinned." I hope I'm not giving too much away. ;)

Q: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

A: Finishing Marrying the Boss was a whirlwind! Kathleen had requested the complete, and I just felt this was my last chance. Great motivation. But I started The Fake Fiancee sometime in the last century :0 and even though I only had three chapters to finish, I had a hard time getting to THE END. While stalled on this ms, I hit a "block" where I couldn't complete anything else. The "people" in my head left. One day about six years into this period, they just "came back." Marrying the Boss was the first ms I'd finished in years! So when it came time to propose a second one, I sent The Fake Fiancee, thinking if my editor bought it, I'd have to finish it. And I did.

Q: How long have you been writing? and What did you want to be when you grew up?

A: At seventeen, I knew I wanted to write category romance, but it wasn't until after the birth of my second child that I made the time. My first contest/conference/editor pitch/rejection was 14 years ago. That was the year I found our local RWA chapter.

Q: What got you interested in writing?

A: Reading books that didn't satisfy me. Long, long ago, when I was a young girl, the heroes were all alpha jerks. Honestly. A "hero" would treat the heroine like a doormat then declare his love at the end, as though she should have known all along. I got so frustrated, those books hit the wall. I thought, "I can write a better story." And while I can't claim mine are better, the endings are much more satisfying.

Q: Why did you target the American Romance Line?

A: My stories involve families and normal, everyday people. Marrying the Boss is the only story I've written without kids in it--and the mothers took over the scenes instead. American is the line that most closely fits my voice--heart, home, and family. I love to read them, and now I'm having a wonderful time writing them.

Thanks for interviewing me. I hope it wasn't too boring. I'll be doing some booksigning this month; please check out my website for the list.

Megan Kelly