Monday, March 21, 2011

Interview with Ellora's Cave author Kaily Hart

Spring is officially here, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to have my friend, Kaily Hart, back to visit! For those of you who missed her first interview here, Kaily and I met at our very first RWA meeting in DC a couple of years ago. Last June, she published her first novella with Ellora's cave, and earlier this month she celebrated her third novella release, Play Me. On top of all that, this busy mom and IT professional is also writing fulls targeting Harlequin Blaze. You can't miss what she has to say on embracing both traditional and epublishing.

Rula, thanks so much for having me here today! I love your interviews. I know you’re always going to ask really well thought out and interesting questions.

Thanks, Kaily. It's great to have you back again with insight and advice on writing in an ebook world. Let's get started!

1. Writing comes first, but writing is also a business. How do juggle the demands of social networking along with release publicity and life in general, and still preserve your writing time?

Badly? LOL. Seriously, this is probably my biggest challenge. For me, the business side comes naturally. Business is my background, I’m very organized and it feels familiar to me. You set goals, layout a schedule and work at it bit by bit until it’s done. I have to be conscious not to let that side of things get too much priority just because it is so comfortable. I’m still learning what makes Kaily most creative and productive and when. The simple answer is I set limits. I’ve began limiting certain times in the morning for admin/online stuff. The call of the internet is strong, though. I might have to take my laptop out into the backyard periodically where my wireless can’t reach! Don’t laugh. I’ve seriously considered that. I’m also pretty addicted to Facebook LOL!

For the release of PLAY ME, I scaled back on the blogging actually from the prior 2 releases. I’ve got some paid ads going and I’ve booked a few things, but nothing like I’ve done before. I found it really sucked the creative life out of me and I couldn’t write for the longest time after. Now, I’m not willing to have that time be non-writing time! Life in general? It’s chaotic. It’s always chaotic, but that’s not going to change so I try to be as organized as I can and fit in what I need to do whenever I can. Of course, that means I’m often on the computer late at night! But hey, I love that!

2. You've written both novellas and full length manuscripts. Pacing differs greatly depending on the targeted story length. Do you approach story planning differently depending on the length?

I have a hybrid style of panster and plotter. I find with the novellas, I’m a bit more of a panster. Sometimes, I’ll start with an idea of the characters & situation and just jump right in. The way I write though means that what I’m really doing on that first ‘rough and dirty’ draft is my version of outlining. And it’s ugly. Some of it’s “written”, but some of it’s just raw dialogue, random thoughts and sometimes it’s just bullet points of what’s going to happen. If anyone saw what my WIP looks like during this time, they’d think I was a crazy person. With a novella, you have to start running from page one, be careful to limit secondary characters and make every word count!

3. With three novellas under your belt, what have you learned about the editorial/revision process? Do you now have your editor's voice in your head while writing that first draft?

That I’m getting better at it? LOL. I hope. With each book, I get a handle on something and then another ‘flaw’ will pop up. With PLAY ME, I was fortunate that I didn’t have revisions, as such. It was things like the use of italics and the correct way to punctuate them. This is very important for a book that will become an ebook because it can screw with the formatting. Of course, there’s editor review and line editor reviews to ensure nothing is mixed, but quality ultimately reflects on the author so I like to ensure I understand all of that. I also mixed up further & farther and used the word ‘big’ way too much. Imagine, using the word ‘big’ too much in erotic romance J? I gave my editor some amusement over that. They’re really very minor items that are easily fixed, but I do feel with each book I get more competent and the stories seem to be more solid. Grammar aint my strength J! When I’m writing, I do recall things from prior edit cycles. Grace (Bradley) would be pleased that she’s training me so well!

4. Any embarrassing moments as you got in the swing of working with an editor?

Well, sometimes you have to talk through the mechanics of the sex/love scenes. I remember with PICTURE THIS, Grace came back with a comment that she didn’t think my final love scene and the position was technically ‘possible’. Of course, I needed to improve my description and how I had depicted it, but it can get a little embarrassing trying to tell an editor that yes, it is possible and you know it is for a fact because, well…you just know J. Now, I don’t think I bat an eyelid over stuff like that.

5. Comparing epublishing to traditional publishing is almost like comparing a novella to a full length manuscript...the pacing of epublishing is very fast! Any time-management/deadline juggling advice to authors hoping to pursue epublishing while working on a full length submission to a traditional publisher?

Epublishing can move fast, especially when you’re an in house author. It can depend on what’s on your editor’s desk at that time and what her/his other authors are doing. My editor is incredibly responsive. I usually get something back from her on the same day, even if it’s just a ‘I got it and will get back to you xxx’. I think with epublishing timeframes are probably a lot more predictable as well. I know roughly how long it will take for the submission, edits, and from there—publication. With ‘traditional NY’ publishing it’s a bit more nebulous, but certainly much longer. I think it’s totally doable to be targeting ‘NY’ and have a healthy epublishing career. It’s just about how you plan your time. Throw self-publishing into the mix and there’s more options for authors today than ever before!

6. Although you currently write sizzling hot contemporaries, you also have your eye on paranormal romance. What do you think fans of paranormal romance find so compelling about the genre? What do you like best about it?

I do have my eye on it, but it won’t be vampires or shifters! I think readers immerse themselves in romance for the fantasy and escapism in a framework of ‘what if’. Paranormal romance is kind of the ultimate version of that. It lets you take that fantasy aspect and escapism to the next level. I’ve always been interested in the paranormal, even from a very young age and I read a lot in the genre. For me it would seem to be the perfect blend of contemporary (because I think my voice is really suited to that) and an interest I have in exploring the incredible.

7. Other than not quitting, what advice do you have for writers pursuing publication?

Educate yourself. There’s a wealth of information out on the internet on publishers, agents and the industry in general. Only with knowledge can you decide what you want to get out of your writing and position yourself properly. There is a great deal of things you can’t control in the submission process, but you can drive it so that you’re targeting the right publishers and lines and determining the best way to get your work in front of the right editor all with your longer term objectives in the forefront of your mind. Whew!

8. Looking back, is there anything you wish you'd known sooner?

A lot! Everything! But it’s kind of like when you’re pregnant for the first time and everyone says ‘get as much sleep as you can before the baby’s born’. Intellectually you know that’s the right thing to do, but do you really do it? No, right? You always hear when you submit that the best thing to do is continue writing. Forget about your submission and just focus on writing the next story. I did continue to write through my submission cycles, but I wish I’d taken that gem to heart and really written a whole heck of a lot more. Writing really is the best way to become a better writer.

9. Now for some you have a quirky writing habit? Come on. We won't laugh too hard ;)

Mmmm. I think my entire creative process is a bit quirky. I don’t write my books in order. I just can’t. For someone who’s very analytical and organized this perplexes me, but I can’t write linearly. My mind just doesn’t create a story that way. I “see” and “hear” in scenes and I write what I see and hear at that time. It does make it challenging to knit it all together at some point but somehow it all works.

10. You've got a deadline looming and it's time to crack down. What comfort snack is a must to have on hand?

Gosh, that’s probably the hardest question. I don’t really ‘snack’ as such. I know, you hate me, right? I would never go eat candy or get a cookie or anything like that. The thing I probably reach for when I really need to get serious with the writing is a Diet Coke. I just stopped to take a sip as I’m writing this J. I recently weaned myself off caffeine completely, but it snuck back in. Somehow. I’m hooked again. It seems to be a writer staple, whatever form it comes in—coffee, soda, chocolate! Pick your poison, ah…comfort snack.

Comfort snacks and comfort reads! Thanks for ringing in Spring with us, Kaily!

BLURB: Play Me

Lily Hamilton had her quiet, predictable life all mapped out, including a hot-shot attorney for a fiancé. That is until she catches him screwing around and takes off in his prized Mercedes, for once not giving a damn where she’s headed. How clichéd is that?

Gabriel Jackson is raw and disillusioned. Driving a tow truck is a far cry from the dangerous career he turned his back on, but when he finds the classy blonde in a dangerous part of LA, he’s immediately back in the role of protector.

Lily is hot and sweet and so out of his league it’s not funny, yet Gabe can’t deny the sizzling heat between them. He thinks he wants hard, fast and rough—until he gets his hands on her. He knows he should stay the hell away, but Lily makes him feel, really feel, for the first time in two years. Is she just slumming or can she see beyond the harsh, broken façade to the man beneath? A man who dreams of making her his?

Note: The following links are for adults only.

GIVEAWAY: Kaily is hosting a giveaway at her blog. The prizes are calendars featuring romance cover model, Jimmy Thomas! A couple are even signed by him. The contest runs through March 24th, midnight (eastern time) and winners will be announced at her blog on March 25th. Just leave a comment and mention that you'd like to be entered in the drawing. Check out contest details and ways to increase your chances of winning here.




  1. Hey, Rula! Thanks again for having me here today! Happy Spring!!

  2. #8 is right on the money. You know what you have to do, but you don't do it, thinking you'll have time to write more later.

    --never gonna happen.

    Nice to meet you, Kaily.

  3. Hi, Maria, nice to meet you too! Yep, that's exactly right.

  4. Hi there, Rula! Hi, Kaily! A fellow SubCare member here. :-) I enjoyed the interview! And you're right, Kaily, Rula asks the best questions. Kaily, "Play Me" sounds delicious! I'm heading over to your blog now to find out more. I think I read somewhere that you've entered the GH? Best wishes!

  5. Hi, Kathy, thanks for stopping by and I'll welcome you over on my blog any day. I did enter the GH. It will be the last year I'll be eligible to enter. Thanks for the wishes!

  6. Hi Maria and Kathy! Thanks for stopping by :)

    Kaily, it's always great to have you here!

  7. Hi Rula, Hello Kaily,

    Great interview. Congratulations on the release of PLAY ME.
    You give some fantastic advice for newbie writers, thanks so much.

    I'm heading over to your blog to check out the yummy things on offer ;)

  8. Thanks, Rula. I so enjoy answering your questions. Any time :).

    Hey, Nas, thanks so much!

  9. hey great interview I learnt a lot. I really take that keep writing to heart. The good thing is, now I am beginning to spot out the ones destined for under my bed instead of an editor's desk.

  10. Joanna, that's great! I really believe you can study craft books all you want, but the most valuable thing you can do to learn how to write is to just WRITE. It's really amazing how much you learn from book to book and when you look back on older projects? Well, perhaps we don't want to go there :). I also think those manuscripts destined for under the bed served their purpose and served it well. There was something learned, something gained from that book, regardless. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Sold. I want to read this one. Thanks for the great interview. I love it when authors talk about the publication process.

  12. LOL! I love the pregnant analogy. So true. :)

  13. Thanks, Stina! I hope you found something interesting/useful.

    Hi, Jennifer. It really is the best one I could come up with :).