Today I am thrilled to be continuing my interview with Tonya Kappes, prolific indie author and fellow University of Kentucky alumnus. She’s the author of eight novels and co-author of Tricked Out Toolbox, a book on marketing for authors. Her ninth novel, A Charming Crime, launches this week!
Tonya is giving away TWO copies of A Charming Crime and a copy of Tricked Out Toolbox to some very lucky readers! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line TK Giveaway and put your choice of book in the body of the email. Winners will be picked at random on Friday.
If you missed it, check out part 1 of this interview here.
Tonya, tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing. How does your personality influence your writing?
Hmmm….when I meet readers, they tell me they can see my positive and funny personalities in my characters. Life is so crazy and I try to give that escape. I’m a positive person and I want my readers to feel that positive energy when reading my novels. I want them to walk away feeling good.
When did you start writing and what was the learning process like for you?
Gosh, I didn’t start until five years ago. I’ve always been good at telling stories, but boy is that different than writing them down.
I took a lot of on-line classes, joined writer’s groups, critique group, and attended a lot of workshops. Writing isn’t an easy job, but it’s one that I continually learn something. The learning process never ends.
Do you (did you) have any writing mentors?
Starting out I had a couple of mentors that really took me under their wing and sent me in a great direction. Claire Cook and Jane Porter. Both of them had movies, New York Times best sellers, and I didn’t bat an eye when I emailed them for advice. They both have been instrumental to where I am today.
What was the turning point—what made you say, “I am a writer”?
When I set my mind to something, I do it! When I decided to write my first novel, Carpe Bead ‘em, I told everyone I knew. It made me accountable to get the job done.
How much time do you spend writing every day?
That is a hard question! I can write my 2-3k words a day goal within two hours. BUT I spend about four hours marketing and promoting.
You’re making yourself known throughout the indie publishing scene as a marketing maven. Were you a marketing major at UK? If so, how much time (if any) did you spend at Phillip’s Market?
My degree is Elementary Education, minor in Family Therapy.
I didn’t hang out at Phillip’s! GASP! I’m a Lynaph’s Pub girl Lynaph’s and I can’t resist the Grateful Dead…..sigh…
That’s funny. My boss is a family therapy major and he’s constantly trying to analyze me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so messed up he’s decided to make me his hobby or what…
Anyway, in the introduction to Tricked Out Toolbox, it talks about how there’s no silver bullet, and how being involved with The Naked Hero website helped you gain exposure before your first book even released. Was that your goal or more of a happy accident?
I always have a goal. I created the audience for The Naked Hero and once I had that, I knew I could market the blog and emailed writer’s groups about doing on-line classes. Those were successful and turned into doing live workshops.
Tricked Out Toolbox also describes you as a pantser. How do you keep from writing yourself into a corner? Or have you gotten to a point where your rough drafts have a natural flow from beginning to end?
I let my stories hang out in my head until I know my characters inside and out. Plus, I’ve gotten the beginning, middle, and end figured out. At that point, I will loosely outline the book by writing chapter headers out.
I write mystery, so I write backwards… make sense??
Totally. Though it doesn’t sound like you’re much of a pantser to me… we might have to revoke your membership.
How did you get so involved in helping the indie community? Has it grown over time or did you just jump right in from the get-go?
When I left my publisher, I JUMPED in. Like I said, when I put my mind to it, I DO IT! There is NOTHING half a**ed with me.
Except, maybe, your use of asterisks in the last line there… I keed, I keed…
One thing that has struck me from day one about your books are the covers. They’re fantastic—and there’s nothing about them that says “indie”. Have you always had such fabulous covers or was that part of your evolution as an indie author?
ALWAYS! Again, when I left my publisher, I wanted to put out a book that was closest to traditional as you can get. My cover artist, Laura Morrigan, is amazing. We talked about my novels, my vision, and she made them come to life.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Okay. I officially hate you now.
What’s your end-goal—to stay indie for as long as it’s feasible? Or do you eventually want the big publishers knocking down your door with contracts in hand?
I actually just parted with my agent….but I’m still looking for a new one and talking with several. I believe that authors, now more than ever, can be HYBRID. (That’s my term for doing it all!) I want traditional through an agent and Indie. I will never go with a small press again.
What’s next for you as a writer?
A couple of my novels are being turned into audio books, so that’s pretty cool. I will continue to write and write.
Come back on Friday for part three of my interview with Tonya, where things go a little off the rails…
Also, be sure to check Tonya out online at her blog, http://tonyakappes.blogspot.com/ and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authortonyakappes and Twitter at @TonyaKappes11