September 2013 First Friday Breakfast with an Author

RitaWe are sharing our September First Friday Breakfast with award-winning author Kristy Tate.  Kristy is the author of many novels, but only six are published. Her debut novel, Stealing Mercy, was on Amazon’s historical romance top 100 list for more than fifteen weeks and spent two weeks as number one.  I loved that book.  Rescuing Rita is its companion novel. The Rhyme’s Library was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Kindle Books Award contest and Hailey’s Comments was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s Novel Breakthrough Contest.

Kristy studied English literature at Brigham Young University and at BYU’s International Center in London. Although a long time resident of Orange County California where she lives with her family, Kristy’s heart belongs in her hometown of Arlington, Washington, AKA Rose Arbor–the fictional setting of her popular Rose Arbor series.

This morning I’m hunkering down to a modest slice of spinach artichoke quiche from Mother’s Market and a salad of arugula, banana, Peter’s Honey Fig, blueberries, lime infused olive oil and crushed pecans with cilantro/mint tea (the mint and fig are from my parched garden).  Kristy, what are you having for your virtual breakfast?

When we lived in Connecticut our church services began in the late afternoon and ended in the early evening. My husband made waffles—the fat, Belgium kind—every Sunday after church. We topped them with strawberries, whip cream and maple syrup. Our church services now end in the morning, we live in sunny California and waffles, to me, will forever need cold, snowy Sunday nights. Now, I rarely eat them, but they remain my dream breakfast.

Ah, dream breakfasts are calorie free so pile up your plate.  Tell us about your writing process from concept to draft to revision.

Losing PennyI have a quirky writing process. Drafting the first fifty to a hundred pages is, for me, the honeymoon stage. I’m introducing new characters, falling in love with the hero, and creating worlds. At about page 100 when I start the second act I get out the note-cards and begin outlining because that’s when things get complicated. I’ll start at the beginning and give each scene a note-card with a sentence or two of the key purposes of that scene. If the scene doesn’t propel the plot in some important way, it needs to go. Looking forward, I create note-cards for all the future scenes. I jot down settings, the beginning and ending emotions of each scene, making sure that the settings and emotions are varied from scene to scene and yet coordinated or opposed (i.e. an angry debate at a child’s birthday party or a gentle first kiss in the middle of a storm.) I bore easily so it’s important to me that each scene carries its own dynamic and yet unique energy. For example, I find some action movies tiring because the pace never varies from overdrive. I love Monty Python because I can’t second guess what will happen next. Unfortunately, I’m not Monty Python zany so I rely on my note-cards after page 100 and let them carry me through the first draft. On my second read-through, I don’t edit or tinker, I simply read and put one of these @ and a note to myself in red when I hit a spot that needs tweaking. On the third pass-through I search out the @s and try and resolve what wasn’t working. I start serious editing and rewriting on my fourth reading. Then I give it to beta-readers and start another project. About a month later, I return to my book, consider my beta’s comments and address them (or not) give it another read through before sending it to my editor. By this time, I’m sick of the thing and generally honeymooning with my new work in progress. When I get it back from the editor, I’ll buckle down to edit, but I’ll continue with my new project. Because I love drafting and hate editing, I like having simultaneous projects.

Which of your books would you recommend to someone reading this interview and not familiar with your writing?  I’ll top off your glass of Ruby Red Grapefruit juice while you share.

ghostI love all of my books, but my personal favorite is  A Ghost of a Second Chance . It’s the first book I wrote where I wasn’t trying to squeeze into a genre—the first book I wrote after I walked away from the goal of traditional publishing. Writing that book was a like freedom from a cage. For the first time since high school, I wrote what I simply wanted to write.

I could look at that cover all day.  You write books with engaging characters embroiled in intricate plots. Would you give us an example of what inspired one of these stories and how you kept track of the various threads?  I’m certain the notecards you mentioned earlier help.

beyond the tent copyI will be publishing a book in the next few weeks inspired by Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. (Sorry, no vampires or werewolves.) I thought I knew how Meyer’s series would end, and it was brilliant. At first, I was really disappointed with Twilight’s actual ending, but then I realized that now I could write my own series and use my own ending. Available in October, Beyond the Fortune Teller’s Tent takes place in Elizabethan England and tells the story of Petra, a high school senior from Orange County, California, trying to help Emory thwart a plot to destroy the publication of the King James Version of the Holy Bible. In the second book, Beyond the Sleepy Hollow, scheduled for a January publication, Petra travels to Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow to rescue Emory from a fate similar to Rip Van Winkle’s. And in what may or may not be the final book, Petra must cross the River Styx and enter Dante’s Inferno.
I love historical research and by creating time traveling characters I’m able to virtually go to all sorts of fascinating time periods and places and yet tell one evolving love story.
Just like writing, it’s the best of all sorts of worlds.

Thank you for sharing your breakfast and writing life, Kristy. Congratulations on the new novel.  I’m buying Beyond the Fortune Teller’s Tent on the first day it’s available. 

For updates on Kristy’s upcoming novels, please visit her blog at  Check out her other books at Kristy Tate’s Amazon Author’s Page.

Before you blast off to Amazon or Smashwords to buy Kristy’s books, let me pour us all her favorite glass of Ruby Red Grapefruit juice.

About mlknowlden

In 2011, I left engineering to write full-time. Between the years 1992 and 2011, I’ve published 14 stories with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that have featured the hypochondriac detective Micky Cardex and two stories that did not. The 1998 story “No, Thank You, John” was nominated for a Shamus award. Many of these stories have been included in anthologies and translated in multiple languages. With Neal Shusterman, I’ve also published a science fiction story for the More Amazing Stories anthology (Tor) published in 1998 and co-authored with Neal Shusterman an X-Files Young Adult novel (DARK MATTER) for HarperCollins in 1999 under the name Easton Royce. For Simon & Schuster in July 2012, we published an e-novella UNSTRUNG in Neal's UNWIND world. I have graduate degrees in English and Electrical Engineering.
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4 Responses to September 2013 First Friday Breakfast with an Author

  1. HeatherC says:

    Fun interview! Right now I am thoroughly enjoying Hailey’s Comments as I desperately hold on to the very last lazy days of summer. Cannot wait for Beyond the Fortune Teller’s Tent! I will be interested to see if it comes close to my imagined ending to the Twilight series;) And the Elizabethan England setting sounds irresistible!

  2. Rebecca Lang says:

    It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who draws inspiration from disappointment in how a book ended. I read an early draft of Rescuing Rita, but I didn’t know much of Kristy’s background, so this was interesting.

  3. Cindy says:

    I thoroughly enjoy reading Kristy’s novels. There is so much intrigue, romance, and action. It was very interesting to read about how Kristy puts her novels together. It makes me appreciate her novels even more. There is so much more to creating an excellent novel than just sitting down at a computer. I’m glad you are willing to put in all the effort so that I can have an enjoyable moment. Congratulations on all you have accomplished, Kristy, and best wishes for many more.

  4. two moxie says:

    I have really enjoyed the First Friday Breakfast series, the chance to peek into an author’s process and hear from them first person. Thanks MK for making these interviews happen. I will have to pick up one of Kristy’s books and check her out.

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