My writing buddy, Kariss Lynch talks about writing and her first novel. Leave a comment for an opportunity to win a free copy of Shaken.
Kariss is a Dallas native and proud Texan. She describes herself as an extroverted introvert who would rather write with people in the room. She fell in love with writing in the third grade and chased her dream into college, graduating from Texas Tech with a degree in English. By day, she works for a communication ministry. By night, she works to meet deadlines, hang out with friends and family, or catch up on her favorite shows—sometimes all at once.
She loves writing about characters the Lord hasn’t finished with yet. In her stories, she likes to show God-sized dreams, romance, adventure, and, ultimately hope. She writes about world changers for readers who want to change the world.
When did you know you were a writer?
In third grade, I was given an assignment to write about an imaginary world. The sky was the limit. I got so excited about my story, I had to ask my teacher for more pages, something I’m sure no student had done before. As I moved to the next grade, my teacher noticed my love of story telling and helped to develop that in me. With the birth of my magical story world, a writer was born, as well.
What inspired you to write Shaken? Where did the idea come from?
In 2010, I sat in a classroom as a substitute teacher while the sound of scratching pencils filled the room. An earthquake had devastated Haiti, and I constantly refreshed my browser, searching for any new details. My pen hit the paper and a story flowed out about a young Red Cross nurse standing in the midst of Haitian rubble, questioning the goodness of God in the midst of chaos. And Shaken was born. I never meant to turn it into a novel, but I signed up for a Fiction Mentoring Clinic with DiAnn Mills and had to bring three completed chapters. So, I took this story idea, banged out three chapters, and never looked back. Shaken became a novel and then the first in a series of three.
What was your toughest challenge in writing this novel?
Up until Shaken, I had only written short stories and poems for my college classes. I wasn’t sure how to take that training and turn it into a book. I began to think of each chapter as a short story. String them together and I would have a novel. The other major hurdle was research. When I started writing, I had never been to Haiti. Shaken emerged after tons of research, interviews, and prayer. After a trip to Haiti, I was pleased to find that my research had paid off. The only edits I made added a more personal touch.
What did you learn about yourself in writing this novel?
While writing Shaken, I learned to wrestle with my characters in the midst of their problems. I learned that a no or rejection letter is just a prelude to God’s better yes. I learned that it’s okay to write with all my heart, that if this story only touches one then it served its purpose. I learned discipline and sacrifice. As I refined and crafted my characters, I was refined and crafted in the process.
How do you edit?
Editing is a necessary evil to me, but I always love the end result. I am a hands-on, visual person, so it helps me to print out my manuscript and mark up any problems I see. It may take me a little longer, but it gets me away from the computer screen for a few days and allows me to physically manipulate the story when I notice issues. I then transfer my edits and notes to the computer.
Who’s been the biggest influence in your writing life?
When I first began the book process, I joined the Christian Writer’s Guild under Jerry B. Jenkins. From DiAnn Mills and Doc Hensley, I learned how to take a story idea all the way to book format. They encouraged and challenged, always pushing me to be better. I utilize their tips and advice often.
Tell us about your publishing journey. How long from first submission to contract/publication?
I first began submitting Shaken in the fall of 2011. I had interest but no bites. In February 2012, I attended the Write for the Soul conference and connected with agents and editors I had met the year before. This time, Shaken was ready to launch completely. By the end of 2012, two publishing houses had expressed interest. By December 2012, Charisma House had made an offer, and I signed a three-book contract with them in January 2013. Shaken released February 4, 2014, with the next two books in the series set to release in 2015 and 2016.
Looking back, what one thing would you change about your writing journey?
When I first started, I didn’t know where to begin or how. I aimlessly sent my stories out into the wide world and grew discouraged by rejection. When I joined the Christian Writer’s Guild, I learned the importance of relationships and connections. It’s all about connections. More experienced writers can coach you, editors and agents can direct you, but most of all, they can all relate to the beautiful struggle of writing. If I could change anything, it would be to plug into a writing community earlier, and diligently seek the right fit with those also pursuing publication.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Kill your darlings but fight for your story. Writing is subjective, and everyone will have an opinion about your writing and your story. Embrace this reality now. Know that you are overly attached to your story world and characters and need someone who can tell you what to cut or how to rewrite. Also know that sometimes this is a preference and not always in the best interest of your story. Learn to discern the difference. Learn to separate your attachment for the sake of crafting the best story you can, and learn to let others help you get there!
Are you ready to work? Are you ready to sacrifice? And are you ready for a whole lot of rejection? If the answer is yes to these questions, then you’ll go further than most. When I first began my journey to publication, I didn’t understand the industry or the energy it would take to write a book.
Learn the industry. Read, read, read. Ask questions. Make connections. Write, write, write. Ask for opinions on your writing from people who can be unbiased. Attend conferences and join local writing groups. Know your audience and do your homework before you submit to agents or editors. Be okay with rejection. It just means that isn’t the route to take. If you really want this and those around you confirm your talent, then keep trying. Most of all enjoy.
Shaken is available in your local bookstores and online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon in print and ebook versions.