— Katie (@lilk8tob) November 27, 2018
Katie, what about KC’s bio convinced you to sub to her?
KC mentioned in her bio that she was good at tough love, which is exactly what I needed. I was desperate for someone to tell me how to fix my manuscript, and I could tell that she would be the one to do it.
I was also wowed by KC’s resume. She was working toward being a certified book coach through Author Accelerator (which she’s completed, by the way!), she’s been through #pitchwars as a mentee, and she’s taken Lisa Cron’s Story Genius classes. She was more than prepared to understand what I was going through and guide me through this process.
KC, what made you fall in love with LEADING OFF?
I saw so much potential in Katie’s writing. She had wonderful characters just dying to tell their stories, but they lacked backstory and depth. Katie reminded me so much of myself and the struggles I had with my own writing that I couldn’t say no to her. I wanted to be there the moment Katie had her own “aha moment.” Katie’s main character, Alex, is such a strong, positive influence for girls. She’s on the men’s baseball team and does Jiu Jitsu. She’s a fighter, the kind of girl we need in YA. I couldn’t wait to dive in!
Katie, looking back, what was your favorite part of the #WriteMentor experience?
My favorite part was the moment everything finally clicked. I was over halfway through my rewrite, when suddenly, my characters actually felt like real people to me. This had never happened before, and it’s exactly what was missing from my writing. From that point on, everything just made sense.
I also love the connections I made through #WriteMentor. KC has two other mentees, and they’ve both been a huge help and offered tons of encouragement. Plus, KC has been with me every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without her.
KC, tell us what it was like working with Katie.
Right before the #WriteMentor mentees were announced, I sent Katie an email asking her if she had the stamina, emotional capacity, and timefor a major rewrite. Three months flies by, especially when I considered the amount of work Katie needed to do. Her reply was fast and certain: I absolutely do.
We gutted Katie’s manuscript. I think parts of the first chapter stayed, but the rest was a complete rewrite. She reworked her characters, the plot, and the point of the story. And she worked HARD and lightning fast. She churned out pages faster than I imagined possible. I’m still not entirely sure how she managed it (some black magic was surely involved), but she impressed me every time. She never flinched, not even when I told her to rewrite something again (or again or again). She was the ideal mentee. She listened, she digested, and then she worked.
Katie, what was the most surprising part of the #WriteMentor experience?
The biggest surprise was that the homework KC made me do (from Story Genius) helped. A ton, actually. It took the entire first month to complete, which made me anxious because I had such a huge rewrite to work on, and all I wanted to do was get started. But KC said to trust her, and I did. Once KC felt I was ready to start writing, it was easier and went faster than I expected. And my final product had a plot with important backstory weaved throughout, which I was lacking before.
Katie, the revision process is only three months and can be intense. Tell us about your revisions and how you dealt with constructive criticism from KC.What advice do you have for future mentees?
I ended up deleting the majority of my manuscript and taking it in a different direction. What I had originally wasn’t working, but I loved my characters and knew they had a story to tell. KC guided me through the Story Genius process of making sure every scene left had a purpose, and the ones that didn’t were cut as well.
I went into #WriteMentor wanting to make big changes, so I actually looked forward to KC’s critiques. Which brings me to my advice for future mentees—don’t go into this secretly hoping your mentor will tell you that everything is perfect, and you shouldn’t change a thing. Be open to honest feedback so your manuscript can improve.
Katie, after #WriteMentor, you signed with Scott Miller and Kristin Cipolla of Trident Media Group. Give us all the details of “The Call.”
I spoke on the phone with Kristin, and she let me know from the beginning of the call that they were offering representation. She discussed what they liked about LEADING OFF and a possible change for the ending, which I agreed with. She was so nice and answered all my questions, and I’m looking forward to working with them.
What does your writing process look like?
Katie:I used to write without plotting everything out first but realized through this experience that this doesn’t work for me. So from now on, I’ll be using Story Genius for every manuscript I write. It goes beyond plotting and has you write out complete scenes (including the ending) before you start page 1. I really struggled with it at first but now am a huge believer.
KC:I’m a firm believer in doing a lot of “pre-writing.” As Katie mentioned, I love the principles of Story Genius. Once your character is solid, you can build a story that’s tailored to them. So, I prewrite, I make a two-tier outline (what happens and why it matters for every scene), and then I write. Everything is moveable, however. I don’t always follow my outlines to perfection. I usually find myself about 2/3 of the way through a manuscript when I have to go back to the start and revise in order to make it to the end. I like have a guide, though. I always know where I’m starting and where I’m ending even if the middle is still muddy.
You’re on deadline! What are your go-to writing snacks?
Katie: Strawberry Crystal light (with caffeine!) and popcorn.
KC: Diet coke, coffee, tea, and keto chocolate.
Tell us about your favorite writing spot.
Katie: Anywhere quiet! I can’t write when there are conversations going on around me, so I do best at home when my kids are sleeping.
KC: I have a home office with a huge (messy) desk. I do best in a bit of organized chaos with the door closed.
What have you learned from this process?
Katie: I learned how important it is to have another author critique your writing. KC’s suggestions made LEADING OFF what it is today, and I can’t thank her enough. I’m thrilled that she’s working as a freelance editor now and will without a doubt hire her to do a developmental edit of my next book. (You should consider using her—check out https://www.kckarr.com/editorial-services/for more information).
KC: #WriteMentor taught me that writers with a dream are resilient. I learned just as much from my mentees as I hope they learned from me!
Katie Bono is a Young Adult author. She’s also a registered nurse and mom of two high-energy kids.
When not writing, she loves practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and photography. She lives in Overland Park, Kansas.
K.C. Karr writes about brave teenagers and unfortunate situations. She’s an editor with Author Accelerator, a proud YA mentor in the #WriteMentor contest, and a longtime member of the critique group Flint Area Writers and SCBWI.
A Flint native residing in metro Detroit, K.C. hopes to one day live on a houseboat off the coast of a tiny island. She’s a sonographer by day, coffee junkie, and a 24/7 cat lover. When she’s not writing or devouring books, K.C. enjoys camping, travel, and spending time with her husband and son.