Friday, September 10, 2010

Welcome J.K. Beck

Today J.K. Beck, aka bestselling author Julie Kenner, is joining us. If you remember, a couple weeks ago I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of When Blood Calls, the first of her new series. I wrote a review here.

Julie’s answering questions for us today. If you have any that I haven’t asked, please leave a comment. She’ll be by later to answer them. I've got 3 copies of When Blood Calls up for grabs for 3 lucky commenters. I'll do a random drawing and announce the winners on Monday.

I strongly urge you to check this series out. I’ve been an urban fantasy reader for years and this is definitely a series that I’ll be impatiently waiting for each successive book to come out.

So, without an further ado, here’s Julie!

Tell us about When Blood Calls and the Shadow Keeper series.
I’m having such a great time with this series!  It’s dark and edgy and the world is as much a character as the people (human or not) who fill the pages.

Essentially, the series is set in and around a paranormal judicial system that’s hidden within and mirrors our own.  Only this system has been around for millennia, and it’s charged with investigating, apprehending, prosecuting and punishing those creatures who break the Covenant, a set of laws originating in ancient times and first codified in ancient Sumaria.

When Blood Calls is the first in the series, and the heroine is a human assistant district attorney who’s thrust into this world when she’s handpicked to be a prosecutor for “Division 6” (the arm of the PEC—Preternatural Enforcement Coalition—in Los Angeles).  Her name is Sara, and through her eyes the reader learns about the world as well.

As you can imagine, it’s quite a shock for Sara, but what’s even more earth-shaking is the revelation that the first defendant she’ll come up again is the man she had a one night stand with.  And not only has he confessed to murder—he also happens to be a vampire.

You also write under the name Julie Kenner and have quite the following. What made you decide to put the Shadow Keeper series under the name J.K. Beck?
Several reasons, all of which mush together.  For one thing, most of my Julie Kenner stuff has a much lighter, quirkier tone to it (the exception is the Blood Lily Chronicles, but those are first person and while I wouldn’t say they’re quirky, there’s definite snark).  Also, most of my recent Julie Kenner stuff has been urban fantasy, not romance (with the exception of category romances).  So we wanted readers to know that these books are romances (though I think they would definitely appeal to UF fans) and they have a distinctly different tone than my Julie Kenner stuff.  I think fans of my earlier books will still dig the series—I know of many who do!—but it’s a distinction we wanted to make.  And, hey, it’s still me!  The J.K. stands for Julie Kenner, and Beck is my maiden name.

What are you working on next?
The next three Shadow Keeper books!  When Passion Lies, When Danger Hungers and When Temptation Burns.  YAY!

What’s a typical writing day for you?
It’s bliss.  I wake up to breakfast in bed.  My children are angels and straighten the house, do the dishes, and do their schoolwork quietly and without being told so that I can get in a solid 5 hour stint of writing in the morning.  I break to have tea and chocolate with the kids, take a leisurely stroll through my perfectly upkept yard, and then sit down to answer emails quickly and efficiently.

That’s the fantasy version, just in case you didn’t see the sarcasm and irony dripping off the words.

Seriously, I wish I had a typical writing day.  But, alas, every day is an adventure.  Right now, in addition to everything else, we’re moving.  So I have house buying stuff and house selling stuff thrown into the mix!

But I can give you a glimpse.  I tend to work late (it’s 2:03 right now, and I’m about to grab another cup of coffee).  I homeschool my kids, so that’s the morning and early afternoon activity.  Much like when I was practicing law, I have a day job to go along with my writing job.  Fortunately, I don’t have to report billable hours for the kids, so while they’re doing independent stuff, I can either write (if the chunk of time is large enough) or more likely do the non-writing work—emailing, blogging, putting together mailings, etc.

After school, I settle in to write for a bit, and while I’d like to say I do it distraction free, I’d be lying.  I did discover a great program called Freedom (Mac only) that shuts off the Internet for X amount of time.  Love it.

Then it’s family time.

Then it’s back to work until I crash. I’m a night person, so it’s not a bad schedule, though I do wish I was a morning person. It just seems so…perky.  But, hey, I write paranormal.  The night makes sense!

Depending on where I am on deadline, that entire schedule can be erased and replaced with “superglue butt to chair and fingers to keyboard.”

When you begin a new book, do you plot first?
No.  I have a basic story concept, either a plot, a character or a concept. I start to write, just to get voice, tone, possibly the character if I haven’t found him/her yet.  And then, when I can see that I like it, I go back in and start playing with the plot. 

I’ve done it other ways, but that’s my most common approach.  The dive in and figure it out then plan of action!

How do you approach editing?
Other than with a large stick, you mean?
Ahem.

Okay, seriously, I just dive in at page one.  But when I dive, I tend to know what I’m doing, because for the most part by the time I get back to page 1, the book is pretty much done.

So I guess that means the answer to your question is that I edit as I go along.

To a certain extent I’m getting away from that, or trying to train myself to.  What that means, though, is that the first 2/3 are pretty solid, and the last 3rd (where I didn’t edit as I went) ends up being in desperate need of a red pen.

I toss stuff happily and with no regrets.  I cut characters.  I delete scenes.  I change motivations.  I never (well, hardly ever) fall in love with the page.  It’s all about serving the story, and that’s all about entertaining the reader by being true to the plot and the characters.

Which author had the most effect on you as a reader?
I’m not sure I can answer that!  I read so much and across so many genres.  If I have to pick one and only one, probably Madeline L’Engle, simply because A Wrinkle in Time sparked my imagination in so many ways.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Cut out the chaff. Keep your writing tight and your story moving.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Read, read, read!  And write.  A lot.  Seriously, reading is by and away the best, most efficient way to grok the concept of story—of pacing and plotting and characterization.  Workshops and books are awesome, but the absorption of knowledge through actually reading is so, so important. 

Equally important is to write.  Put pen to paper and write.  And keep writing.

Thanks for having me!  I hope folks explore the series at www.theshadowkeepers.com (be sure to check out my booktrailer!)  And you can find me on facebook (www.facebook.com/authorjkbeck) and twitter (www.twitter.com/jkbeck)

12 comments:

LaVerne Clark said...

Hi Julie and Riley

It is so reassuring to hear from an established writer how you go about plotting your book. This is a similar way to how I go about my own writing. I've tried all sorts of other ways too thinking I was shooting myself in the foot - but kept coming back to 'diving in' as well. It's what I'm comfortable with most, and hopefully with time, I'll get better and won't find I've backed myself into a tight corner so much! : )

Your series does sound awesome. Riley's review on an earlier blog whetted my appetite, so I can't wait to get stuck into the series!

P.L. Parker said...

Good post, enjoyed every word.

Susye said...

Great questions, Riley, and great answers, J.K.! Looking forward to this series! The only other question I have for J.K. is when do you sleep? :) Thanks for sharing!

Pamk said...

I loved loved that book. Am highly anticipating the next 2. It wasn't until after I read this one that I realized you were also Julie Kenner. I have a few of your works as her on my keeper shelf. After these 2 will you have more in this series and if not what other stories do you have planned.

cheryl rae said...

I had already decided you didn't sleep - Julie but now after seeing your schedule - it's confirmed. I've loved all your stories in all the series.. I can't wait to read this one! yayyy

JK Beck said...

Good morning everyone! I've decided that I aspire to sleep...though often that aspiration fails in actual practice, LOL!

Pam, right now my plate is full with the next three in the Shadow Keepers series, but I'm also working on several other things...just nothing firmed up yet! I do have a Kate/Allie short story coming out in 2011 in an anthology, and I'll get the deets on that on my website as soon as I know them. And I have a Christmas novella in 2011, but the anthology is as yet untitled. It's with Vicki Lewis Thompson and Jill Shalvis, and the concept is a lot of fun!

Deb Sanders said...

Great to see you on here, Julie. I'm just now reaching the point where I can edit ruthlessly without mourning the loss of a scene I spent days writing. LOL Its always wonderful to hear how published writers manage their time. You must have a bottle of B-12 in your cabinets somewhere.

Nikki said...

Great post, I enjoyed reading it. The new series sounds great!! I liked reading about how you write your books and that it sounds a lot like me, which makes me feel a lot better about not fully plotting out the book.

Denise said...

Hi Julie! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Your new series sounds fascinating and I look forward to checking it out. Thank you, Riley, for introducing me to Julie!

Denise Golinowski

JK Beck said...

Hi Deb! B-12 would be very smart, wouldn't it? Nikki, glad I could help, LOL!!! Hi Denise! I hope you check out the series!

Gale Stanley said...

I've read a few Julie Kenner books and I'm a big fan. I've been buried in edits and I just came up for air. Hope I'm not too late to be entered.

LORETTA CANTON said...

I applause people who homeschool their kids. My sister-in-law homeschool four kid and does a great job.

lorettaC
lbcanton@verizon.net

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