Pen Friends~ today’s interview is special because I was along side YA debut author Kara Jean McDowell as a fellow 2016 PitchWars mentee, witnessed her get an agent, and then a book deal, and now her book, Just For Clicks, will come out in February!
SP: Hi Kara! Thanks for joining us. Before we dive into all the book stuff, can you please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing?
KM: Hello! Thanks for having me! My name is Kara McDowell. I live with my husband and three young kids in Arizona. When I’m not writing or reading, I like to boat, bake, go on road trips, and watch Netflix.
SP: Your debut, Just for Clicks, will come out Feb 2019. First, we LOVE your incredibly adorable, genius, and timely idea!
Here is a blurb:
Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.
Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .
SP: Can you tell us a bit more about how did this idea come about?
KM: Thank you! The idea for this book came from years of reading popular mommy blogs, and from my own life. I got married at 21, had a baby at 22, and immediately became a stay-at-home mom. I started a blog because I’ve always loved writing, and it seemed natural to write about my kids. Before I knew it, my readership was growing and I was being offered sponsorship opportunities. I was once paid to take pictures of my baby in Wal-Mart brand diapers!
Just for Clicks is a thought experiment about my kids and what their lives would have looked like if my blog became famous and I never stopped writing about them.
SP: From age 6 until now, how many books do you think you have written? How long did it take you to write Just for Clicks?
KM: In one sense, this is hard to answer because my elementary school had a publishing shop and I spent as many hours there as possible, creating decorated hard covers for all my books. (I still have them!) In a more traditional sense, Just for Clicks is the second novel I wrote, and it took me about two months to write the first draft, and two years to revise it into the condition it’s in now! I have since completed another book and am currently working on my fourth.
SP: Before getting a pub deal, you were a Lifestyle & Mommy Blogger/Freelance writer. How did this help your author career? Can you tell us what your writing process is like?
KM: Blogging and novel writing are such different beasts, it’s almost hard to compare them at all. When I was a blogger, I could sit down for 30 to 60 minutes, pound out a post, and publish immediately. Sometimes I miss the instant validation, because now I write for months and months and years on end, hoping someone will someday read those words.
My writing process is chaotic. It barely feels like a process! I have three young kids (ages 2, 4, and 6) so I write whenever I can. Sometimes a 5 AM. Sometimes while they’re napping. Occasionally while I’m making dinner. I’m not much a plotter, although I’d like to get better at it, and everything I write needs approximately 8000 rounds of revision.
SP: Each writer has something that has helped them along their writing journey–what has kept you moving forward?
KM: The writer friends I’ve made have been invaluable. I’m not sure I would have made it this far if I didn’t have people to cry with when things get tough, or to celebrate with when I get good news. Drowning my sorrows (i.e. rejections) in ice cream is also a time-honored tradition, at this point.
SP: In 2016, you were a PitchWars mentee and shortly afterwards found your agent. Do you have any tips for querying authors?
KM: Querying is so tough. My biggest tip is not to be discouraged. Seriously. Not after five or ten or even fifty rejections. I know it’s tough to keep going, but Just for Clicks was rejected by 70 agents before I found the right fit. Don’t self-reject!
SP: What has your publishing journey been like so far? Did anything surprise you along the way?
KM: Everything has surprised me! From the number of times I has to read my own book (way too many) to the number of worries and fears I’ve dealt with (a lot). The best unexpected surprise has been meeting book bloggers and hearing about their excitement for my book. After so many rejections, I honestly never expected anyone to care about Just for Clicks!
SP: Marketing– All debuts are a bit nervous about marketing their first book. What are some tips you have learned? What still makes you nervous?
KM: Similar to querying, I’ve learned to never self-reject. There have been moments where I’ve been reluctant to join a debut group or promote my book because I’m afraid it’s too small or people won’t be interested in it, which is complete nonsense. I firmly believe that there are readers out there for every book. That being said, I’m still nervous about almost everything, including talking about my book in real life. I have no idea what I’m going to talk about at my launch party!
SP: Now to lighten things up:
Favorite fictional crush? Captain Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles
Best recent read? All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Chricton (I read an ARC, the incredible book releases in May 2019)
Favorite childhood book? This is an impossible question to answer, but Bloomability by Sharon Creech is one of those books that I’ll never forget. I’ve always been prone to daydreams and wanderlust, and this book spoke to that part of my soul.
Fav drink/food while writing? Water. My answer is water because I’m tragically boring.
SP: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Kara! We wish you the greatest success next month as Just for Clicks enters the world!
Thanks so much Kara! Look forward to having you on the SP!!!
Nova, signing off