Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a (mostly retired) CPA who now lives on a sailboat in the Caribbean and writes romance novels. I’m a Canadian, and previously lived there all my life, mostly outside Toronto, but for 17 memorable and cold years in Winnipeg, which is where you wind up if you go north of North Dakota.
My husband is the sailor, and he suggested we try the cruising lifestyle. The carrot for me was time to write. So I closed my accounting business, and we headed south. I’ve learned a lot about living on a boat.
My first two published books were hockey romances with Harlequin Heartwarming in 2018. I have five books being published in 2021, one in 2022, and a short story in a holiday anthology in November.
So for me, this has been an awesome change in lifestyle.
What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?
I write contemporary romance. I do not have the imagination for paranormal or the patience for research for historical – though I enjoy reading those who do. I’ve always written stories in my head, and no matter what I start out thinking I’ll write, there always end up being two people falling in love. I think the draw might be that incredible feeling when those characters find their HEA.
What are your current projects?
I signed contracts for six books in 2020 and I’m just about done edits on the last one now. One was out in February, one in April, one in June, July, September and then January. I’ve submitted a proposal to Harlequin Heartwarming for three more books in the Cupid’s Crossing series. I’m fairly optimistic about the chances I have there.
The non-Harlequin I released in April was part of Sarina Bowen’s World of the True North, featuring two college hockey players. Several people have asked for Cooper’s story (MMC’s friend) so I’m working on that, considering self publishing, and also a short story for the Christmas anthology featuring the FMC’s roommate Penny.
Beyond that, I have about 20 stories battling for room in my brain, and I need to figure out which one to work on next!
Do you outline a plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?
I do a kind of hybrid. I start with the idea, and let it lead me, but my brain normally gets ahead of my hands, so I’ll do a plot outline or synopsis so that I don’t forget what I’ve thought of. For proposals, they require a synopsis, so I’ve learned to get the story plot set down even if I can’t get much of the story itself written. But I have friends who plot out chapter by chapter, and I cannot even fathom that. My first draft is just one big thing, and I don’t break it down into chapters until I’ve gone through it several times.
How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any?
Are you a writer if you haven’t had a rejection?
I didn’t start querying, since I came into this a little differently, until after I’d been published. So after I work through the hurt feelings, resign myself to never being accepted by an agent or publisher again, sharing with my writing group (rejections are responded to with pics of hot men and women, and sometimes cute dogs) I remember that I have books out there, and I will again, if I’m willing to do the work. And since I don’t have an agent, I’m open to consider less traditional routes. I’m more aware of the fact that traditional publishing does have issues and limitations for writers, and I’m seriously considering self publishing.
Which means I can then look at dismal sales records to keep my ego in check.
You are Traditionally published without an agent, how did that come about?
Someone I knew wrote for Harlequin Romance. She seemed a normal person, but she was doing this. Writing, what I wanted to do! She would often post on social media about opportunities Harlequin had, including the annual So You Think You Can Write contest. I tried a couple of those, joined the forums to talk to other writers and writer wannabes. In 2016, I entered a Blitz Harlequin had for their Heartwarming line. My first chapter and synopsis led to a full request, which led to revisions, which led to “the call” and a two book deal, with of course, more revisions.
I really had no idea about the usual querying process at that time. Part of that was because I had so many ideas in my head, and not enough time to get them written that I didn’t have a complete manuscript, let alone a polished one. The Blitz meant that I had one project that had merit and I could focus on that.
I would still like to get an agent, because of writing opportunities that only exist for writers who have an agent. But mostly, I’d love to have someone look at all these ideas I have and say this is the one you should do. And then this one. Because focus is my problem.
Since I was published with Harlequin, I have an editor, for whom all things Harlequin feed. I’ve got two Love Inspired Suspense titles coming out under the pen name Anne Galbraith this year, and that happened because I could approach my editor about an idea.
And I’m now more aware that there are publishers you can approach without an agent. I’m working on some ideas for that now.
Why was Traditional Publishing right for you vs. Self-Publishing?
A big part of that was because I knew nothing about self publishing. I still know very little, but I have a better idea of where to find the knowledge I need. It will require a big investment of time and some financial resources, but I’m considering it for a future option.
What I liked about traditional publishing was first, the validation. Someone, a professional in publishing, was willing to pay me money for something I wrote. As well, since I knew so little, I didn’t have to worry about the areas I was ignorant of, like covers and formatting. Harlequin especially, puts your books in hands because of the publisher, so it was an opportunity to get my writing out there, which I, with so little marketing knowledge and talent couldn’t do.
And, as I mentioned before, I needed the focus. Someone else said, yes, that story. Finish it, because I want to read it. That was a big help. And the first edits I received? Were like getting a free class in writing craft. So much that I hadn’t thought of.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Obviously, write. A lot. You keep getting better.
Also, read. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and from that I’ve learned the basic arc of a story without really working through from a how to book. As well, you’ll find comps, and learn what’s popular and not in your genre. There are books out there that can help you refine your writing skills, or marketing skills or whatever you’re needing.
Find people. I found a great group when I did #RevPit on twitter. We share opportunities and information on agents and publishers. We critique for each other, cheer-lead, and in case of R’s, post pictures of hot people to inspire and console. Writing is a solitary thing, so even if you don’t want to share your work, sharing your experiences with someone who’s been there helps.
Be willing to risk. Putting your work out there is a risk. Getting rejections hurts. But try something new, like sending something to a publisher without using an agent. Enter a contest like #PitMad or #RevPit, and see what happens.
Finally, persevere. It’s not going to be easy. There are going to be rejections that make you want to curl up in a hole and never come out. Even if you get published, there will be hurtful reviews and one star ratings. But if you want to get your stories out into the world and find the readers that are going to say they love your characters, you have to pick yourself up and try again.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
www.kimfindlay.ca is my website. On facebook, KimFindlayAuthor. My twitter ID is @missheyer74, and on Instagram you can see pretty pictures of the Caribbean and my dog at authorkimfindlay.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Here’s an excerpt from A Valentine’s Proposal, which came out in February. It’s the first book in the Cupid’s Crossing series. Nelson and Mariah are fake dating, for reasons, and she’s suggested they practice kissing in private so they’re able to make a convincing show in public.
Nelson looked at Mariah, her cheeks slightly pink, her gaze on her notebook (had she actually researched bad kissing?) and her teeth biting her bottom lip. Maybe it was all this talk of kissing, but right now, he wanted to kiss Mariah.
Not theoretical, pretty woman, kissing would be great, but kissing the woman sitting there, the one trying to make kissing an item on her list, something they could practice in order to demonstrate to people that they were falling for each other.
Maybe some people kissed like that. But Nelson never had. He didn’t kiss for anyone but himself and the woman he was interested in. He wanted to kiss Mariah but kiss her so that she wanted to kiss him again, not to impress anyone else or critique his technique.
He was going to make her love his kisses.
Being overeager was something that would be on the bad kissing list, so Nelson shrugged.
“Okay, then. Let’s do it.” He patted the couch beside him.
He watched Mariah. He saw her swallow. Her teeth were scraping her lip now. She set her computer and notebooks down on the floor beside her chair.
“I guess we should go ahead and get this taken care of.”
Was she nervous? She totally was.
“Mark it off your list.”
She narrowed her eyes, looking like she suspected something. He smiled back at her.
“Come on. No time like the present. Then I can get back to the game.”
Her shoulders snapped back, and her teeth were no longer worrying her lip. He held back a grin. Unless he mistook the expression on her face, she was determined that he wasn’t going to shrug off this kiss and turn on the TV.
Good. They were on the same page about this.
She stood and crossed to the couch, dropping on the cushion beside him. He watched the expressions swirling over her face. She was staring at his lips, and leaned forward, starting to pucker. He could almost read the checklist in her mind.
Unh uh. Kissing wasn’t a checklist.
He put a hand on her cheek, soft under his palm, and kept her at a distance.
“Hold on, Mariah. You all but accused me of being a bad kisser. I can’t have that. We’re going to do this right.”
Her brow creased. “What do you mean?”
His thumb brushed over her cheek. She blinked. His other hand brushed her arm, fingers running up and down from shoulder to wrist and back. Her gaze followed his hand, her expression confused.
His fingers slid up her shoulder, across to her neck, gently stroking. He felt her soften under his touch. Soon he had both hands cradling her face. She drew in a breath, watching him intently. He caressed her bottom lip with one thumb, and her mouth parted.
He leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. Her skin was warm and smooth under his lips. Her perfume tickled his nose, and he could hear her breathing. He felt his own speed up. Mariah’s eyes fluttered closed as his lips traced a path down her nose, across her cheek, to one corner of the delectable lips.
She sighed, relaxing fully into his hold.
Then he touched her lips with his, softly. He pulled away, just enough to catch his breath, and she moved closer, seeking more.
He pressed forward again, brushing his lips against hers, back and forth, as she pushed closer to him. His hands slid into her hair, and hers moved up his chest, gripping his sweater.
Now he increased the pressure, feeling the texture of her lips, the brush of her breath, the slight moan that escaped her.
Or maybe that was him. Because kissing Mariah was a pleasure he’d have hated to miss.