Hello,

 

Kevin_PSIn response to inquiries from students, friends and fellow writers, I’ve selected several of the most common questions to answer. Please use the contact page on this site or my email (ksymmons@comcast.net) to ask about my writing, teaching, or activities (conferences, presentations, appearances).

I love to hear from you and promise to respond in a timely manner,

Thanks,

Kevin

 

 

 

Thanks for the great questions. We will continue to update and add to this portion of the site on a regular basis. 

Q - We've been following your writing for some time and really enjoy your work! We recall you telling us you want to publish at least one novel a year. Will there be a 2016 novel, and is it close to being published?

A – You’re correct! I have told my readers I want to publish a novel every year. However, this year I admit I got behind in achieving that goal. No writers block. I don’t believe in it. I usually work on several novel projects simultaneously and late summer I found myself 30% through several new projects but none was ready for submission. The one I am working on diligently now will be a follow-up to my 2013 Amazon best-seller, Out of the Storm. There is a chance I may meet my goal but it looks unlikely. Guess I’ll simply have to publish two in 2017! Thanks for asking!

Q – What’s the best thing about being published?

A –  Seeing the cover art for the first time. It was like watching a child being born. Each new one is a genuine adrenaline rush. Seeing the galleys (the final edited copy before it goes to press) of a new book is great, too.

 

Q - What’s the worst thing about being published?

 A – Disciplining myself. I don’t sit down every morning and write for hours. Never have. 2) Patience! Traditional publishing is a lengthy process. It will take many months from signing to publication.

 

Q – Now that you’ve been doing this for a while what were your favorite experiences in talking to groups about your work.

Answer: Three things come to mind: 1) reading groups. I’ve done several and I love the informal, free and easy style these groups encourage; 2) Young people. Had the opportunity to speak to several groups of college and AP High School writing classes. They were amazing. So full of life, energy and so curious. Just great. And; 3) Seniors. Had a wonderful group at Bay Pointe in Brockton. They were attentive, inquisitive, and amazingly energetic. Also got to play the piano and sing “Danny Boy” with them after the session.

Q -Your book, Out of the Storm has a lot of marine and nautical information in it. Do you have any experience with boats and sailing?

Answer: Yes, Rite of Passage came indirectly from my mother’s interest in the occult, Out of the Storm shows my dad’s influence. From the time I was an infant (yep… in a blanket in the cockpit) I have been around boats and the sea. I have been boating on Nantucket Sound since the late 80’s. As a teenager I had a boat before I had a car… and I’m ashamed to say my first speeding ticket was on the water! I have Coast Guard certifications in basic seamanship, piloting, and navigation.

Q – Many romance writers are female. How did you go from being a successful business executive to becoming a romance writer?

A – Great question. One I hear often. And you’re right — most romance novels are written by women (in the high 90s percentage wise). When my first book (one that never got published by the way) took a detour into intimacy I discovered I enjoyed evoking my reader’s emotion. It was fun and exciting—a real adrenaline rush. I was hooked and never looked back! But it has not been easy. If you doubt that check the news/events page or the monthly NEC RWA magazine for my humorous (but accurate) description of the reality of being a male romance author. And my recent works (Out of the Storm and Solo) are more mainstream than romances.

 

Q - I see from your website you’ve written several novels. Where do you get your ideas?

A – The most common of all “writer” question. I’m never at a loss for ideas — just the reverse: too many ideas, too little time. Our surroundings are replete with stories begging to be told. An author’s imagination is his/her stock and trade. If story ideas continually evade you, perhaps you’ve chosen the wrong profession.

 

Q - When you were being offered a contract for one of your novels how did you feel?

 A –  My editor told me she wanted to contract Rite of Passage (ROP). How did I feel: Like a kid who’d just been called up to the major leagues.

 

Q - Did you ever doubt that your work would sell?

A – I always believed a publisher would buy one of my novels. But I had some doubtful moments. Any author who denies that is really selling fiction. Remember, when it comes to selling your work, talent is important, tenacity and drive are essential.

Q – Have you ever had to re-work a novel to sell it?

A – Yes, The Wild Rose Press (TWRP) told me that my first, Rite of Passage, was not a true romance and could not contract ROP as written. They promised to give the revision a thorough read but offered no guarantees. I re-submitted it in early June and was offered my contract in late September. They now publish a wide range of fiction, including mysteries and thrillers (Out of the Storm), women’s fiction (Solo) and young/new adult (Chrysalis—my latest project).

 

Q - What helped you the most in achieving publication?

A – Many things. But there’s no doubt — the most important component in my success is the support and encouragement of my writing partner(s), critique group, and my family. Their encouragement and constructive criticism has been invaluable.

Q - If you had one piece of advice to fledgling authors, what would it be?

A – Stop tinkering, fiddling around and making up excuses to NOT write. Take all the classes you want (I teach one myself) but at the end of the day… WRITE SOMETHING. I find far too many hobbyists or those who purport to be writers for the glamour or the excitement. Writer’s block is something you manufacture yourself. Free your “muse” and put paper to pen (or fingers to the keyboard!). Good luck.

Q – Now that you’re published what’s the most rewarding thing?

A – Getting good reviews (five or four stars only) on Amazon or Goodreads from people I have never met who obviously enjoyed my work. I’ve been fortunate in that to date I’ve received only five and four star reviews. It’s easy to get good reviews from family and friends. The real fans are those who appreciate your work for its merit

Q – I see you on Facebook and Twitter. Do you enjoy them?

A – The constant attention authors must pay to social media is very time-consuming. I enjoy Facebook.. I’ve reconnected with some old friends and found many new ones and believe that both FB and Twitter have generated sales. How many? Who can say? I find the 140 character limit on Twitter limiting but it’s a learning experience.”

Q - Now that you have several novels in publication does it still excite you when you get a new contract?

A – Yes, of course it does. Completing a novel is like giving birth (though I cannot speak from personal experience). Each one should be exciting and unique. I know many write based on publisher demands, but I’m glad I have a publisher who doesn’t limit what I write (within reason).

Q: Are you saying that you don't write to a formula. Isn't that bending the truth since all your novels have similar elements of romance and the thriller genre?

A: Touché… and yes they are all similar with the exception of Solo, my foray into women’s fiction. BUt one is a paranormal historical, another a contemporary and so forth. I try to never repeat same theme or characters… and that is both an asset and a liability if a reader finds my characters engaging! 

Q— I’ve been following your work since I read your first novel, Rite of Passage. Now that you’re about to publish book # 4… titled Chrysalis, have you discovered any new insights or things you’d like to change about your craft?

A – Good question. And you were right on target, writing is many things but first and foremost it is a craft—like playing the piano, charcoal sketching, or origami. It’s very important a writer get grounded in the basics of what makes a good novel, e.g. character, plot, setting, voice, and point of view to name my big five. Most successful novelists I know have studied at the college level or attended as many conferences and workshops as they can. And while inspiration and art are involved, good novel writing is more than some arcane, obtuse, and esoteric process. It has protocols, rules, and requires discipline. So yes… it’s a constant process of education and refining your skills to improve your craft. Hope that answers your question.

Q— Many authors write series or novels that are similar to each other. I’ve only read two of your novels but I liked them. When I reviewed the summaries on Amazon and your website they all seemed very different… one a paranormal, the second a contemporary romantic thriller and Solo, your third… a work of women’s fiction? Any reason you don’t follow a more formulaic approach?

A—Yes, that’s very true. Probably the simplest and most obvious answer is I have a (relatively) short attention span. Consequently, I chose to vary the genre, setting, and my characters. I’ve never had the inclination to write a sequel though readers have asked me… most often for Rite of Passage. There may be one in the future but I’m flattered you asked! And by the way, my latest, titled Chrysalis, like the previous three is very different. Check out my website or my FB page(s) for more on it and others in the works. Thanks!

Q—I hear writers and people on TV talk about their advances. Exactly what do they mean? And to expand, can you explain how you writers are compensated?

A— That’s another great question. I’ll be glad to explain how authors get paid. The two most common methods of payment are advances and royalties. (When I talk about compensation I refer to what we call traditional publishing). An advance is money a publisher offers an author to sign a contract for his/her novel. Advances begin about $500 and can get into several million… especially for celebrities or well-known political figures. Royalties are simple and exactly what you’d expect. The publisher and author sign a contract which specifies a % or dollar amount the author will be compensated for each book, CD, or E-Book sold. They can vary widely but print books, since they are sold for more $, offer a lower % than the E-Books. Royalties are generally paid at the beginning quarter for a previous one—often several quarters in the past. Every publisher has their own formula and schedule. Hope that helps. If not ask a more specific question and I’ll do my best to answer next month.