Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Write a Novel in Ten Minutes a Day? Meet Katharine Grubb

I am so excited to introduce to you today a sweet writing friend, Katharine Grubb. Katharine is the author of a new book called Write a Novel in Ten Minutes a Day.  That's right! Ten minutes a day! I hope you enjoy this interview and I hope you'll check out Katharine's book.

Me: Thank you, Katharine for joining us at A Novel Creation. Most of my readers are avid readers who enjoy a peek “behind the scenes” or they are aspiring writers who appreciate learning more about every aspect of the writing process—from draft to publication—everything in between and everything beyond.

You just released a book for time crunched writers called Write a Novel in Ten Minutes a Day: Because Your Dreams are Worth 10 Minutes. Could you start by telling us about the book?

Katharine: In 2008, I was writing a homeschooling curriculum and caught myself putting my writing into the small chunks of time I had for other things in my life. At that time, my children were 2, 4, 6, 8 and 9. Though I didn’t have a deadline, I felt like any progress on my project was good. Motherhood is a game of inches. We gain a little ground every day in our home organization, in teaching manners and hygiene, in doing the best we can for our kids. I felt like I could treat my writing the same way: A little bit here, a little bit there. If I got discouraged in that little bit, then I was missing the point. I also felt like it would be a mistake to wait for the perfect time and conditions. When would that happen? And I think, most importantly, I needed my children to watch me pursue my dreams. They needed to see me conquer my fears and apply myself and grow in discipline. That ten minutes a day was becoming more and more important the more I thought about it. I remember standing at my kitchen and thinking to myself. “I’m a 10 Minute Writer.” Lightning struck. I think I registered my first blog that day with that name. It was this blog that Hodder & Stoughton found in 2013 when they were looking for someone to write a book called Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.(WANITMAD)

Me: Tell us a bit of your previous writing experience…what brought you to this point?

Katharine: This is a big question. I remember being four years old, given a blank sheet of paper and a pencil and my first instinct was, “Let’s write a story!” I was frustrated my fine motor skills were not as fast as my brain. My first grade teacher was big influence on me and she must have assigned writing stories every week. I wrote a lot about kittens. (Becky, I HAVE those stories. I could easily send you photos. They’re very amusing!) If anyone had asked me as a first grader what I was going to be when I grew up, I would have said, “an author!” In high school, my English and journalism teachers were influential in challenging me and encouraging my love of writing. I was active in newspaper and yearbook and learned how to organize my thoughts and what it meant to have a voice. I went to the University of Oklahoma on a journalism scholarship thinking that I would be just as successful there as I was in high school. Sigh. That didn’t happen at all. 

I was very confused. My journalism classes were not just hard, they had a high standard. My many mistakes were far more than a steep learning curve. I often slipped into panic and anxiety attacks over my writing, trying to please instructors. This was happening about the same time that Jesus found me. After my junior year, I thought that God was telling me to give up writing because it had become an idol in my life. I changed my major to education. The truth was, and God’s gentleness was all over this, that I suffered from PTSD as a result of my abusive childhood. (I wasn’t diagnosed until 2013!) My anxiety attacks were triggered episodes. God got me out of writing for a season so I could be safe emotionally. Even though that meant three more years as an undergrad, my degree in education was far more marketable than my degree in writing. 

I didn’t pick up writing again until after I graduated. I connected with old friends who wanted to form a Christian comedy team and I signed on to act and write for them. In the two years we worked together I wrote 35 sketches and nothing trained me better in three act structure, than that. I also recognized my love for comedy and how I could write a pretty good one-liner. My voice was strengthened in that season.

The next twelve years, I didn’t write at all because I married and had five children all in a row. I believed that God’s only plan for me was that of mother. I found this painful because I still loved to write and longed to call myself “author”. While watching A Snoodle’s Tale with my children, I wept and prayed that God would open some doors for me. Who would have thought that Veggie Tales would make such a profound difference? I stepped out on faith and read as many books on writing as I could get my hands on, started a novel in 10 minute increments and kept praying. I’m still amazed that he never wanted me to give up on writing and doing what he created me to do. The detours were important and worth it, but those dreams and desires are there for him to use, not to be squashed. This is an important message I want every writer I meet to understand!

Me: You are certainly getting that message out through your media presence. You've established a vibrant online community of writers on Facebook called 10 Minute Novelists and I know you’re active on Twitter. You’ve mastered Canva and other tools. What advice do you have for writers regarding technology?

Katharine: There are a lot of ways to get an agent. And I had read some remarkable stories. Many of them came down to being in the right place at the right time. One way is through contests, like ACFW’s Genesis. I tried that and didn’t make it past the first round. One of my judges wrote: “Is this supposed to be funny?” (Not a good beginning for a writer who leans toward the humorous.) I also knew that conferences were great places to meet agents — but I was never in a place financially to go. Then of course, you can write query letters and see what happens there, but the odds are against you.

I thought querying was my only option. So I did my research. I figured out which agents represented the kinds of books I wanted to write. I also looked at which publishing houses they worked with. (Much of this information is on an agent’s website. It’s not hard to find, but you have to take the time to look.) I then read the agent’s blogs if they had one. The tone of a blog and the rapport the agents have with their writers comes through in their blogs. I knew that if I liked what I read — if I felt like they were warm and professional, flexible and fun, or if they had foresight for publishing trends —that’s the kind of agent I would want.  Agents will say directly on their blogs what they do for their authors. I wanted an agent that would help me in the long term, someone who had a good reputation and someone whose authors and books I respected. I narrowed my choices down to three. I sat on this list for years. I did query other agents because my top three weren’t taking unsolicited manuscripts. I also prayed. I prayed that God would open the right door for me at the right time. Not too soon. Not too late. 

Click to buy it here!
In March of 2013, when Hodder & Stoughton approached me to write Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day I did NOT say yes. I had read enough agents’ blogs to know not to do that. Instead, I said, “This sounds interesting. Please tell me more.” Then, of course, I screamed in joy like a crazy person in my house. For hours.  The same day that I received this I emailed my top three agents. The subject line read, “Blogger’s dream comes true. I may have a book deal. Can you advise?” I sent them the same email. I forwarded the exact email from Hodder & Stoughton and told them that I very much wanted to write the book and, because I had been reading agents’ blogs for years I knew I didn’t HAVE to have one. My question to them was, do I need an agent to accept this contract. If I do, can you tell me what to do next? The next day, one of the agents responded with more questions but then dropped the ball completely. The second agent didn’t answer at all. But Chip Macgregor did! He had questions. He response was “I’m familiar with the contract Hodder & Stoughton uses. If you think you can manage a 27 page contract, you really don’t need one. It’s up to you.” This understandably caused more private screaming on my end. That’s all it took for me to feel like I needed one. And really, an agent? I wanted someone who would be with me throughout my career. Chip was in my TOP THREE. Yes, please. 

“Respond to their email,” Chip said. “Tell them that you’re represented by MacGregor Literary and to contact me next.” 

Buy Katharine's Novel
by clicking here!
Two months later, Chip and I just happened to be in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma at the same time. So we met face to face. I later attended MacGregor Literary’s annual marketing conference and met him again. Surprise! He’s a regular guy, who has funny stories and lot of experience and is willing to guide me as I create and market a long-term body of work, not just line his pockets with 15%. He negotiated my deal  — and even raised my price! He guided me through signing my first contract and sent me my advance check! He also really like WANITMAD and has supported me in my marketing. I’m glad to have him on my team. 

Thank you, Katharine for taking time with us today!

And thank you, readers for visiting today. Please take a few minutes to leave a comment or share this post with a friend. 

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