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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Follow Your Heart: Author Interview with Kelly Mack McCoy

Most everyone thinks they can write a novel. What made you decide to write one?
I guess everyone thinks they can write a novel until they actually start one. Then their book, like mine, ends up buried in a drawer somewhere. Some are dusted off and eventually completed. Most are not.

It’s something I’ve had in my heart since childhood. I’ve always loved to browse through books at bookstores. I would thumb through some of the books on the shelves and read parts of them at random. Sometimes I would be so awed by the prose I would think I could never be a writer.

Then I would pick up another book and think, Man, this is really bad writing. Yet he somehow managed to have his book published and get it into a bookstore. If he can do it, then there is hope for me after all.

What do you expect readers to take away from that book?
That God works in and through our lives in unexpected and unconventional ways and He is always at work in ways we can’t even fathom.

What writing experience/credits did you have prior to writing that book?
My writing, like my life, has been a crazy, zig-zag course in finding out what works and what doesn’t by the long, tedious process of trial and error. Mostly error. Other than articles in small-town newspapers and other small publications, nothing I’ve written has been seen in what I considered in my younger and dumber days to be publications that mattered, so what I had was filed away in that dusty drawer I spoke of earlier and lost.  

How long did it take you to write that book?
To answer how long it took to write the book I need a definition of the word write. If it includes the time spent staring stupidly in despair at a computer screen because I thought I could never finish it, then the answer is years. More specifically many years. The book was hidden away in that drawer without a word added to it for a very long time.

Who encouraged you along the way?
I am blessed to have some awesome, encouraging writer friends from my two writers groups who have helped squeeze this very stubborn book out of me. Whatever skills I have as a writer were probably gained through osmosis by hanging around people who are much smarter and talented than I am. I don’t know what they got out of the deal though.

How many rewrites did you do on it?
I wrote and rewrote the book until I decided one day to quit procrastinating and just put it out there. I’ve gotten over the fear of having people discover I’m not really a writer. Belonging to my writers' groups has helped tremendously. I just kept rewriting until it looked like I might know what I’m doing. I suspect I’m not the only writer out there who has this approach.

Who helped you with the editing?
I was blessed along the way to be around people who are excellent editors and have taught me the why behind the structure of the building blocks of a book. When that part was done, I again was blessed to have a world-class editor and even better person, Ninfa Castaneda, do the final edit.

How that came about is another part of the story of how God has put people in my life along this journey who have been integral pieces of the puzzle in the making of Rough Way to the High Way.  

Did you try the normal route and try to find a traditional publisher to handle your book?
I tried the traditional route for a brief period of time. I did contact a few agents. After a number of rejections and non-responses, I quickly decided I just didn’t have time for that process to play out. So I chose this hybrid route.

What has been the hardest learning curve for you?
The hardest learning curve for me has been the process of getting the story together without being concerned about the process or end result. I just have to write and let those things take care of themselves. I couldn’t outline a novel before writing it if you held a gun to my head. I have to just write and see where it goes.

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
That I should go with my instinct and follow my heart. Or to put it less eloquently, my gut, in both the writing and publishing processes.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
I’ve been advised and then learned the hard way that you just have to sit down and write. Sound easy. But strangely enough it’s not or we wouldn’t be so creative in avoiding doing it.

Any other comments about writing that you'd like to add?
Yes. Unless you’re a crazy masochist, don’t do it. I don’t understand people who say they love to write. I’m like other writers who have said in many different ways they don’t want to write a book but to have written one. But here I am doing it again.

That’s all for today’s interview. Hope you’ve been enjoyed to trust your gut and keep on writing! If you’d like to learn more about Kelly’s writing and buy a book, here are two links to get you started.

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