AuThursday – Kimberly Marie

Kimberly Marie

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a 24-year-old author based out of New Jersey. I grew up in this area after moving from Maryland at 4 years old with my family. I am the youngest of four children, so the house was always busy. It was in the moments when I had to entertain myself that I found my creativity. Growing up with the woods as my backyard was akin to growing up with the world at my fingertips. In an instant, I could be lost in a fairytale or a nightmare. It only depended on how I chose to view my scenery. I graduated from college with a degree in communications and journalism, and after spending years in DC working for Congress and non-profits, I came home to Jersey to chase a dream of being a writer. 

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

My day is not structured much at all when it comes to writing. I typically write best at night, as I am a night owl, but can find inspiration anywhere at any time. I have been known to rush out of the bathroom after a shower because an idea hit me while I was shampooing my hair and I didn’t want to lose it. My notes app on my phone is full of all the ramblings bouncing around my skull, but I couldn’t imagine writing any other way.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing exhausts me, it’s as simple as that. It takes a lot of my creative energy to put words to paper, and everything I write is so personal and vulnerable to me, that it is an emotional outlet when I write. I like to say that I leave pieces of myself in everything I do creatively, so I always need time to recharge after spending long stretches behind a computer. There are moments when I get so excited about a scene that I can’t stop writing until I have all my thoughts written out, but always need to decompress after.

What are your current projects?

I have just finished my first draft of my second book and am moving into the editing stages of it before starting the querying process. I don’t think I have ever believed in a project as much as I believe in this one, so I can’t wait to get to the point where I can start sharing it with people.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Absolutely. I also believe that there are steps we can take as writers to overcome it quicker than just waiting it out. I have spent months unable to find the motivation to add to my works but have also found that putting energy into other creative projects has helped remedy it quicker. I like to dabble in photography and have an Instagram where I post poetry that I put a lot of effort into when working on my novel writing becomes strained. I also believe that writers put far too much pressure on themselves to hit certain word counts or finish projects by unrealistic deadlines, which leads to burnout. When writing isn’t fun anymore, it is best to just take a step back and breathe. Take notes when scenes come to your head, but don’t try to force yourself to put pen to paper when you have nothing left to give.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Daydreaming. I get lost in my head so easily and am always coming up with new ideas for books and stories. I have so many unfinished projects that I am working through but have found that I cannot write linearly. I need to bounce around from scene to scene and project to project in order to write effectively. It is just the way my mind works, and while it has become an effective method, the constant daydreams do take away from time actually spent working on current works.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I have always loved wolves. White Fang by Jack London was the first book I remember reading as a child, and I have re-read it hundreds of times since. I have always loved the bond wolves share with each other and how they rely on not only their instincts but also their family. It’s a beautiful relationship, and I have always been one to romanticize the wild in my work, so the wolf fits that bill perfectly.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. Don’t listen to those that can’t instill life into you. Don’t measure your success by the success of others. When I was in my sophomore year of high school, my English teacher gave my class a narrative project. This was the moment in my life where things became real for me. He was an odd character. He reminded me of a cross between Jack Black and Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society, and he drove an atrocious lime green car that I would see every morning when my mom dropped me off at school. For this narrative project, instead of writing a pithy short story, I just let my mind wander and ended up with a piece about a haunted United States soldier who was fighting overseas. It wasn’t written in story format and was structured in stanzas. It was not a poem though and was told in (the) first person. I didn’t know what to call it when I handed it to my teacher, but five minutes after handing him the page, he shouted to the class about how great it was and gave me an A on my rough draft, then and there. He taught me something that day that I have carried with me ever since. Words don’t need a box. Your writing does not need a definition, and everyone will interpret your writing differently. A year later I gave the same piece to another teacher who I liked more as a person, and she tore the piece apart. She told me it needed to conform to a certain style of writing and that she could not grade it because she did not know what it was. It took me a while, but eventually, I decided that I would listen to my sophomore teacher’s opinion of my work because that was what spoke life into me and my creativity. It was what fueled me to continue telling stories, and that was what I needed to cling to as I chased my dream.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I have my website that has a link to my social media and book on it (www.bykimberlymarie.com). 

My debut novel, a historical women’s fiction titled The Sun at Dawn, is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart. I am also on Instagram (@by.kimberlymarie), Twitter (@bykimberlymarie), and Pinterest (bykimberlymarie). I’d love to connect with fellow readers and writers on Goodreads as well!

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

This is (a quote) from Chapter 14 of my debut novel The Sun at Dawn.

“Remember little one, love can solve many problems that logic cannot. The heart is much smarter than the head.”

The Sun at Dawn by Kimberly Marie

AuThursday – Dana Ross

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DR author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Like many writers, I was born into a family of bookworms. My maternal grandmother was a librarian for seventy-five years and she was a heavy influence on everything I read growing up. My father was a jeweler, and I grew up in the industry and was groomed to take over my family’s store. I worked under his wing for almost a decade, but after I left Maryland to attend the Gemological Institute of America and earn my Graduate Gemologist degree, I was encouraged to apply for a teaching position at the school. I relocated to California and worked as an instructor at G.I.A.’s Santa Monica campus.

Later, after marriage and kids and moving to Florida, I decided to try writing. After a few poor unstructured attempts, I joined a few critique groups, switched careers, attended grad school. There, I earned my MFA in creative writing. I still have a passion for gems and I try to infuse my writing with gemological factoids whenever possible.

How do you make time to write?

When my children were young, I wrote when they napped or attended school. I knew I had only a few precious hours to get words onto paper, so I made writing part of my daily routine—as much as brushing my teeth and flossing. My kids are almost grown now, but I still adhere to my writing schedule: Coffee first. Then treadmill (to fill my head with ideas/mentally flush out stories). Then I plant myself in my writing chair and work until my son comes home, hunger pangs beckon, or the dog whimpers for attention.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

“Ugh.” Unfortunately, yes. I’ve heard people say they don’t believe such a thing exists, but I suffer from it on occasion. Recently, I started working on two novels, one story I began while participating in NaNoWriMo, and one story that “came to me” out of the blue. I love both ideas, but I haven’t been able to commit fully to either, and until the “Eureka!” or “Aha!” moment comes to me, I can’t find the momentum to write. To help speed along the process, I play songs that remind me of my imagined chapters or work on character profile worksheets or try to write the synopsis of each book until the proverbial “block” has been lifted.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

Great question. My true love is YA because I love teen angst and quirky characters. The first manuscripts I wrote were YA stories, because writing is cathartic and through YA, I could deal with teen issues I, myself, went through, and issues my daughter experienced. That being said, my first published book is a contemporary romance with elements of suspense. It was a lot of fun to write outside my “regular” genre.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both.)

My recent book was published traditionally through The Wild Rose Press. I’d learned they had earned an award through Predators & Editors and heard great things about the company, so I queried them and they accepted my “baby.” TWRP really love their authors and go out of their way to teach us about the writing industry, which can be overwhelming at times.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

I’m an intro/extrovert if there were such a thing. I love working and hanging out with fellow writers, but I’m also introverted at times. While crafting a novel, I’ll retreat into my writing cave and shun friends/society, and I can go days without contact from the outside world. Fortunately, I’m also a mom and the host of a local writers’ critique group, so I get pulled out of the proverbial cave and pushed back into society when my son is with me or when it’s time to moderate the writing group.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

That’s an easy answer. I stumbled upon this quote by Gloria Steinem and for years it has been my mantra: “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

First, the obvious: write and read every day, even if it’s only a paragraph or a page. Second, read and write outside your comfort zone; our writer minds can get stagnant if we do the same thing every day. Third, read the craft books written by the masters. There are many but my favorites are Stephen King’s “On Writing,” Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style,” and Browne & King’s “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.” Last, but not least, don’t give up. Your writing might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and writing is a glacial process, but if you write because you love what you do, stick to it, toughen your skin, and be patient. Your day will come, and there’s no greater feeling than having a complete stranger love your prose.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Thanks for asking, Tina. I’m constantly on social media, and I love to connect with readers and fellow writers. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and my (under construction) web page:

Website: https://danarossauthor.com

Twitter: @danarossauthor

Instagram: mommawriter (Dana Ross Author)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanaRossauthor

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

Yes, thank you for offering. This excerpt comes from chapter two—a scene where my protagonist meets face-to-face with the story’s antagonist.

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There were three things I could not stand—cheap shoes, bad wine, and the man seated across the table from me. William Drummond was staring at me like a half-starved animal. Maybe his greedy gaze was due to my dress’s plunging neckline, but the man obviously had other things on his mind—complications that involved me. And like the pan-fried calamari appetizer slowly digesting in my belly, sharing company with the man who almost killed one of my girls did not sit well.

Nonetheless, I had problems. I had to at least hear him out.

I lifted my empty champagne flute and motioned for a refill.

Drummond obliged.

The bubbly was good and dry, one that cost a pretty penny, which the sockmuppet would probably write off and charge taxpayers. It was tempting to slug my drink down and ask for a third glass, but I refrained since I was dealing with someone less trustworthy than my dry cleaners. As Drummond refilled his glass, I remembered how easily he polished off drinks without showing a hint of an altered mind. In addition to the champagne, there was a glass of whiskey with melting ice cubes by his plate.

Bells in my head rang a warning.

He was slick. Just like that suit. Which was decent, though, probably an Italian label that cost more than my rent. He also sported a rose-gold designer watch—last year’s model—and diamond pavé cufflinks that practically blinded me with their shine. His nails were trimmed and glossy, like he’d had a recent manicure, and his jet-black hair shined like an asphalt lake.

His eyes were a forgettable brown, but they revealed intellect—correction, cunning intellect.

Drummond lifted his champagne glass and aimed the rim in my direction. “Let’s make a toast. To old times.”

I leaned forward and clinked his glass. “Old times.”