If you want to publish your work, you’ll have to reprogram your mind when it comes to people turning you down. Feedback sounds a lot like rejection when you’re in the trenches. Most of the time, when the disappointment lessens, you’ll discover some good advice.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know before becoming an author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kris Clink.
Kris Clink gave up her marketing career to write about women and the challenges they face — from complicated family dynamics to unrealistic expectations. Set in middle America, her novels are laced with love, heartbreak, and just enough snarky humor to rock the boat.
Calling Texas home for most of her life, Kris now lives in Kansas where she and her husband have filled their empty nest with two spoiled-rotten pups. Learn more about her at krisclink.com.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
I was born a writer, but never found the time or the concentration to finish fiction projects while I was raising my kids. I deployed my skills to technical writing marketing and nonprofit careers, maintaining I’d give fiction a shot when the time was right. Finally, my husband asked, “When are you going to write that book?” So, at 46, I quit my job to write full time. Five years later, “that book” is on the shelves.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
Book research is probably the most fun part of the job. For my first book, I visited Texas wineries and the cities around the Texas Hill Country. Probably the most interesting research surrounded my male character, an injured Army vet. That took me to San Antonio, to the Center for the Intrepid, a rehabilitation center created in the wake of the Desert Wars.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
I started late. There’s nothing I can do to retrieve those lost years, but I can only chalk them up to gaining valuable life experience. I thought I had to do one thing or the other — run a nonprofit or be a writer. I’ve met so many authors who have other jobs. I wish I had carved space in my life for both. I’d encourage young writers to find ways to carve out and protect their writing time.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Within days of finishing my first draft, I sent it off to agents. Big mistake. Huge! When you’re writing, you’re too close to the manuscript to identify obvious mistakes. I learned to air out those first drafts for a few weeks before revising, and I never send them off until I’ve given them extra polish.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Besides promoting my debut, I’m writing the third book in the Enchanted Rock Series, set in the Texas Hill Country, and I’m kicking off my new podcast, Kris Clink’s Writing Table, to help newbies learn from experienced writers.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
In scenes where the main character is coping with her lover’s PTSD, she digs into her father’s Vietnam experience. For the first time in her life, she hears her father speak about it. Tying the two veteran’s experiences together was probably one of the most enjoyable scenes for me to write.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
I know it’s trite, but don’t give up on your dreams. My main character demonstrates it’s never too late. I’d always felt a pull to write fiction. When I finally surrendered, my world opened up to possibilities. Writing isn’t easy, but I find it incredibly satisfying work.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.
1) If you want to publish your work, you’ll have to reprogram your mind when it comes to people turning you down. Feedback sounds a lot like rejection when you’re in the trenches. Most of the time, when the disappointment lessens, you’ll discover some good advice.
2) When ideas come to you in the night, get up and jot them down. You’ll sleep better and won’t risk forgetting them. It’s not uncommon for me to wake to a note I can barely decipher. Boy, was I glad I took notes when one of my favorite characters found me at 4 am!
3) The writing community has an unspoken rule, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” We’re not in competition. No one does it the same way — if we did, they’d call it “plagiarism.” Make friends and be a friend to others. I’ve been pulled out of creative nose-dives by writers I’d only known through Twitter.
4) There are no absolutes. Querying will pull you into a swirl of “You must do it this way,” while social media will tell you to create “high concept” –something new, fresh, hasn’t been done, or done in a new way. I restyled manuscripts dozens of times, dancing to different audiences. Around the time my first women’s fiction project didn’t grab an agent, someone told me to write young adult because that market was hot. Once I sold in the YA market, I’d get a chance in women’s fiction. When my YA manuscript finally caught an agent’s attention, that agent asked me to rework it into the middle-grade genre. When I finished, she said it wasn’t “edgy enough.” The fact was, I wasn’t cut out to write YA or MG. Letting go of all that work was brutal but returning to women’s fiction was like coming home again. Write the stories you were meant to write.
5) Exercise patience and take pride in completing projects. It took Dean Koontz eighteen years to become published. Unless you have an established audience, there is no fast track. For the first few two years, I wrote eight to twelve hours a day, thinking the faster I wrote, the faster I’d become an author. The truth is-I was an author, an author of unpublished work.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
I keep writing — even on days when inspiration doesn’t come easily. You can always go back and edit, but you can’t edit what you haven’t written. This wasn’t easy when the lockdown hit. While finishing my second book, the daily news cycle pulled my attention until I had to lock myself in my office and turn off the internet.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I am an audiobook fan, so there’s always one playing when I’m not working on my books. Listening to the work of other novelists stimulates my creativity. I listen to commercial, literary, romance, and women’s fiction. I can discover inspiration from any genre if the writing’s good.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A character in my book says, “hurt people hurt people.” I’d like to see an expansion of careers in social work to assist in law enforcement, mental health, and academic settings. From providing a listening ear to groceries, simple acts could change lives.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@krisclinkbooks on Facebook, Twitter Instagram
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring