What happens in Aspen is definitely not staying in Aspen . . .
A girls’ trip to Aspen was exactly what Shay needed to forget about her toxic ex-boyfriend. She’s got her girls, pristine slopes for skiing, and hot guys everywhere. Of course, her epic self-rediscovery goes completely to hell when a wild (and deliciously hot) skier knocks Shay on her ass . . . and war is declared.
Kolton doesn’t know what it is about Shay that makes him lose it. Not just his cool—although she does have an unholy gift for that—but his restraint. When anger gives way to explosive chemistry, they’re both shaken with the intensity of it. But somewhere between lust and hate, Kolton and Shay realize they could have something real . . . if they don’t kill each other first.
A small-town girl at heart, Kelly moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in Northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head.
She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—Gummy Bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.
She is represented by Stacey Donaghy of the Donaghy Literary Group.
Kelly Siskind is one of those rare people you meet in life, that with one single conversation you know that they are doing in life what they were meant to do. When Kelly mentored me in Pitch Wars, we had a few telephone conversations. During one, she suggested a change in my main male character’s motivation. But I was concerned that his behavior in another scene would no longer make sense. Without a moment’s hesitation, she was able to explain what drove his every decision. Kelly Siskind is a great writer because she understands human behaviour, what pumps your heart faster at the sound of a car door slam, or what makes a woman want to go from punching a smirk off a guy’s face to sucking it off with a searing kiss faster than you can take a shot of tequila.
It is a gift.
But I wanted to get a glimpse into the steel cables that guide the gondola of her thoughts (a reference to her next book release). Today, in my interview with Kelly Siskind, we talk writing process, character development, and of course, hot sex.
You’ve written three books in the last year. That’s very impressive. What is your writing routine or schedule?
My husband and I own our own business, so I write whenever I can. If I have half an hour in the morning, I savor those minutes. If I have free time in the afternoon, I dive in. Mondays are my full writing days, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. Other than that, it’s about making the most of the time I can eek out.
How long does it take you to complete a manuscript to the point where you give it to CPs for feedback?
It takes me about two and a half months to draft a manuscript. I work with one critique partner during that time, who reads as I go. This process allows me to catch issues before they get out of control. The continued feedback helps me develop the story. Once it’s done, I work with two or three other CPs to revise and a couple of Beta readers afterward.
Tell us about your writing process from outlining to drafting.
I’m a plotter. To begin, I write a short blurb to define the story, like what you’d find on the back cover of a book. Then I flesh that out into a synopsis, usually two to three pages. Then I write chapter outlines. These outlines consist of the purpose of each chapter as well as the scenes that make them up. As I write, I stray from the structure at times, but having it in place helps keep me on track.
How long does the plotting process take you before you’re ready to start writing the MS?
About a week.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
This changes for me. When I wrote CHASING CRAZY, I had just finished drafting a novel with a very snarky main character. I wanted to push myself in the other extreme with Nina, making her more shy and awkward. I’d also backpacked to New Zealand a lifetime ago and wanted to relive that experience through my writing. Similarly, the first book in my Over the Top series—MY PERFECT MISTAKE—begins in Aspen. The idea for the novel sparked while on vacation there.
Chasing Crazy made me laugh out loud and swoon. Sam and Nina had tremendous depth and were so relatable. I felt I was on the journey with them. How do you develop your characters?
I don’t fill out questionnaires about my characters the way some authors do, but I do jot things down on a page. Some basic background information. The rest develops as I write. I try to work snippets of their history into their inner monologues to give readers insight into who they are and why they make the choices they do.
In my last post, I asked Brighton Walsh about things to avoid when writing sex scenes. What is your advice to authors about writing an effective and hot sex scene?
Writing hot sex, for me, is about injecting emotion into the scene. It’s not a paint-by-numbers exercise where you describe the actions; it’s about moving the plot and emotion forward. My aim is to inject elements of my characters personalities and struggles into the intimacy of the moment.
Tell us about your next project.
I am so freaking excited about my next project! As it is a secret, I can’t divulge too much, but I will say that the first novel in the series has a cringe-worthy event that starts it off with a bang.
Kelly is the author of CHASING CRAZY and the soon to-be-released Over the Top series, all published through Grand Central’s Forever Yours. A small-town girl at heart, she moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—gummy Bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.
2015 Golden Heart® Finalist
“Chasing Crazy is an entertaining and compelling story about owning who you are. With an endearingly awkward female protagonist, a swoon-worthy male love interest, and Siskind’s superb storytelling, this is one of the best New Adult contemporary romances I’ve read to date.” ~ USA Today Bestselling author, K.A. Tucker
Dear Mom & Dad, I dropped out of school. I’m going backpacking. Sorry. Love you both.
At nineteen, Nina has endured two lifetime’s worth of humiliation. Tired of waiting for it to get better, she decides to get going—across the globe to New Zealand. There she faces what she fears most: a super sexy guy ready to be Nina’s next mistake.
Once Sam’s life was all about having fun. That was before the accident. Now his friends have bailed and his world has tipped sideways. But when a gorgeous girl on his flight looks at him with passion instead of pity, Sam feels his old self resurfacing.
Now traveling together, Nina and Sam fall fast, hard, and deep. More than anything, Sam wants Nina to forget her fears. But to help her do that he must reveal his own painful secret—and risk Nina never seeing him the same way again.
I had writer’s remorse when I read the amazing interviews with fellow Pitchwars mentees and their mentors on Brenda Drake‘s blog. When asked about what they are looking forward to the most, many of them gushed about their mentors.
Me? I answered that one like I was doing a job interview. I still stand by my answer, but feel sad that people may not know how amazing my mentor, Kelly Siskind, is. But then I thought, Ha! I can tell the world! (or at least my blog followers).
So here it is, my Top 5 Reasons Kelly Siskind is the Right Mentor for Me (and amazeballs):
5. I got a Peen Tiara just for being her mentee. It keeps you warmer at night than diamonds.
4. She loves my main male character (MC) as much as I do. She makes comments like, “he tears my heart out. Shreds it.” She’s even virtually licked his face (and he liked it).
3. We speak the same language, and I’m not talking about French. We use and understand words and terms like, “lurve”, “that’s what she said”, “amazeballs”, and when we hear the word “open”, our first thought is not about a door.
2. She gets my manuscript. Like really gets it. She shares the same vision I have for my story, but my glasses are blurry and hers are so clean, you could light a fire with them. Her recommendations all make sense and I already can see how much better Unspeakable will be.
1.When I told her a critique partner thought my MC was too hot, her response was, “FUCK THAT NOISE UP THE ASS.” Sigh. She gets me. She really gets me.
This was in a recent email I opened. And it was the best, most exciting email I have received in a very long time.
Now, now, friends and blog followers. Before you go asking, “Did you get a book deal, JR?!” I want you to remember what I said about how these things don’t happen overnight. Before you can get the elusive book deal, several things need to happen:
(1) Write your novel (√)
(2) Revise and rewrite large parts of your novel (√)
(3) Edit (√)
(4) Repeat step 3 several times (√√√ etc.)
(5) Get feedback from beta readers and/or critique partners √
(5) Repeat steps 2 and 3.√
(6) Hire an editor. √ This is a step that is specific to me. I hired an editor because, despite the positive feedback I was receiving, I still felt that the manuscript could be better. I had concerns about pacing, character and story arc, etc. I needed someone in the writing and editing field to help me with it.
(7) Several rounds of edits later, the manuscript is deemed ready to query.
(8) Write query and repeat steps, 1 through 4. √
(9) Query agents. √
(10) Offer of representation. X
(11) Agent requests edits. X
(12) Repeat step 2.
(13) Agent submits proposal to publishers.X
(14) Book deal?
Are you picking up what I’m throwing down? I won’t be announcing a book deal anytime soon. Now that we have our expectations in line, I’m hoping that you’ll be excited to hear my news!
In a recent post I talked about how I went into step 9, and after some feedback from some lovely agents, I’m back to step 2: Revise and rewrite.
I need help with this manuscript to make it better. And I’ve been searching for someone in the industry who knows the genre and understands what I’m trying to accomplish with Unspeakable.
It’s an online contest where published or agented authors (or editors) pick one lucky writer to mentor. (The writer’s who enter can submit to five of the potential mentors). If selected, Mentors help the writer (Mentee) edit and polish their manuscript until it shines like Justin Beiber’s hair under the California sun. At the end of two months (yup, two months!) of mentoring and editing etc. there’s an agent round where several amazeballs agents can see the writer’s pitch and first chapter and possibly request further material – basically, this is an opportunity to get beyond the slush pile.
This contest is brilliant and amazing for so many reasons! If selected, you can end up working with a writer you respect and admire. A person who knows the industry and truly understands what editors, agents and readers want. It’s a swoon worthy opportunity.
Sadly, there were only 100 125 spots and about 1600 entries. So, basically 96% of the entries won’t get the opportunity to be mentored. But on the plus side, many of the mentors gave detailed feedback to several of the writers who submitted to them. And guess what?!?!
I got some great, detailed feedback.
Like really, really detailed. Like, go over my manuscript with the most insightful fine tooth comb feedback.
Because I was selected as a MENTEE!!!
The AMAZING fellow Canuck, super hilarious and talented, Kelly Siskind is my PITCHWARS MENTOR (and yes, I am shouting).
Because this is a HUGE, GINORMOUS opportunity. I NEED this. I finally found the right person to steer my manuscript in the right direction, and better than that, I know I will learn so much about the craft of writing as a whole. I am beyond elated. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m ready!
SO, huge shout out and thanks to Brenda Drake who created Pitchwars, and to Kelly Siskind for selecting me. I hope I won’t disappoint.