Interview with Author Kristen Collins on the Writing Process
We’re doing an author interview today with Kristen Collins. She is a seasoned published author and co-owner of INDIE/Pendent Book Services, a company dedicated to helping authors self-publish their books. We will be doing several interviews in this series, covering the different facets of the self-publishing process and we’re starting with this one on the writing process.
Tell us about yourself:
I’m a Native Texan, born and raised close to the heart of the great Lone Star State. I was born in January of ‘89 and was able to grow up during a great time. I honestly don’t consider myself a Millennial, and really dislike that title. I’m a part-time secretary and a full-time mother and wife, as well as a Lupus Warrior.
Having Lupus means living my life indoors, and the sun is my arch-nemesis, my personal kryptonite. I want to leave a legacy behind, something my kids could one day look back on and say, “yeah, my mom did that!”
Thanks to the encouragement of friends and family, I found a passion for writing paranormal romance books. Anything in the realm of fantasy usually suits my novels and tends to be able to reach a large audience in multiple genres. Most of my story ideas come to me in the most unexpected times and places, such as my dreams. They will plague me nonstop until I sit down and write it out.
I like to explore new types of characters such as Sandmen and Boogeymen, for example. I enjoy creating all the facets of their own worlds, such as in A Sandman’s Forbidden Love.
God has blessed me with a success that I never imagined was possible, which allows me the freedom to explore and create with intense focus in paranormal fiction. Now, I know Shifters aren’t real but Angels are another story. So Angels are also a part of my focus and research. I will often sit on the computer doing extensive research on both Sandmen and Angels, trying to learn as much as possible about them.
In addition to fiction, I create Art Journals that are cross-generational from thirteen to ninety years young. My goal, with these types of books, is to reach people who need that extra encouragement and quiet reflective stillness that journaling can bring into their lives.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Like I mentioned before, I have Lupus and have had it since I was five years old. When I first started writing A Sandman’s Forbidden Love, I was very ill. I could barely stand much less stay awake during the day because the fatigue was so strong. I had become bored with Netflix binging and I had these same dreams plaguing me over and over, again and again, nightly. So I decided to put fingers to a keyboard and start typing it out, before I knew it, in a month’s time, I had two rough drafts of books completed and ready for an editor.
How did you become an author?
I wrote my first book in 2016, I wrote A Sandman’s Forbidden Love and Grimm Love at the same time, completing them both in a month’s time. I was pretty depressed with what I had accomplished in my life up to that point, aside from being a mom and wife, which I love and am grateful for in this life. Family is everything to me. I had felt like I wasn’t someone they could be proud of or worth bragging about? I know that sounds silly but my books gave me something tangible to point to.
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All my books have some kind of experience from my life in it. I don’t believe my stories would be half as good as they are without the life experiences I have lived.
How many books do you have published?
Currently I have about 17 books published with at least 4-5 more in the process of being written right now.
How many books do you write in a year?
Well it varies but I would say at least four a year typically.
Describe your writing process.
I am, what they call in the Indie community, a Planster. I don’t plan out my books every single detail beforehand. I usually write out the basics on a brainstorm document: Character’s Names, Species, couple matches and if they have a particular look such as purple hair or eyes then I write that down too.
Then I go to my draft document and outline each chapter with a title and 1-2 paragraphs for my own writing direction. But I typically bounce around my WIPs, I don’t write them straight through from beginning to end. Using my paragraph guide as a direction then I fly by the seat of my pants through the rest of the chapters.
What do you do to get in the mood to write?
Music. I have a playlist, a very long one, that I put on to drown out everything else while I write. Depending on what scene I’m writing depends on what I’m listening to on my playlist.
Tell us about the different POVs that are possible and which ones you should use in writing fiction.
So I write in first person but I like to give insight to all of my readers, so I will switch to the different characters’ own POV.
What’s the difference between planter and panster?
To be a Planter, you believe in rigorous preparation, now I’m talking a full blown outline, storyboard and sticky notes plastered everywhere. They leave no detail untouched about their story. If you ask them the slightest thing about their WIP then you will know anything from hair color to body type etc…
A Panster is a writer who writes on a whim without any kind of outline or guide.
Then you have a Planster who believes in a comfortable mixture of improvisation and loose structure. It’s a sweet spot between plotting out every detail and jumping in blind.
What advice do you have for new authors just getting started?
1. Get an Editor.
Susette at My Write Hand VA (INDIE/pendent’s In-House Editor)
Novel Nurse Editing
Alexis at Book Reviews by Lexi
2. Get a Cover Designer and Formatter.
Rachel, from No Sweat Graphics & Formatting, is INDIE/pendent Book Services in-house Graphic Designer. (Covers, Logos, Branding, Book Formatting, etc…)
3. Set up an Author website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon Author Profile
(writing and self-publishing is only about 10% of the work and Self-Marketing accounts for the other 90%)
Kristen is the in-house Tech Account Set-Up Guru at INDIE/pendent Book Services.
4. Find the best platform for self publishing. KDP is a free publishing platform.
There’s Ingram Sparks and Digital2Draft too.
5. Register and copyright your book to protect it.
$75 on copyright.gov
6. Make connections with others in the Indie Book Community. Join groups and follow/support other author pages.
(Facebook, Instagram & Twitter)
7. If you want to join a self-publishing, traditional, or a hybrid house, that is great but do your research on them!
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
That’s hard to answer because I love so many Indie authors and the way they uniquely write their stories. Elisa Amore is my favorite author with her series The Touched Saga. I love the original and new spin she put on death angels and forbidden love. She is an inspiration to me and so many other Indie Authors out there.
Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I would not be where I am today without three special friends of mine. Rachel the other Co-Owner of INDIE/pendent Book Services, you of course, Susette, as we go way back and fellow Indie author, Kae Galla.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I do. I love writing; it’s a passion of mine that I enjoy thoroughly. I hope one day it will be all I do but until then I appreciate that I am able to do it at all.
Any other advice for other writers?
For all new writers, lean on the writing community, other Indie authors especially because they will be your support system and show you the way.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think from within my books to my readers, whether in life or death that everyone can have their own happy ending.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
As an author, I truly hope you enjoy and get lost in my stories! I want my books to be a means of an escape for anyone who reads them and I want you to fall in love with the same characters I have over the years.
Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?