Thursday, September 4, 2008

Upcoming Debut Author - Kelly Gay

I first became aware of Kelly Gay through Colleen Lindsay's addictive blog, The Swivet. Colleen--or La Gringa, her non de plume--used to send me free books back when she was a publicist. When Colleen became an agent, the flow of free books dwindled to a mere trickle, but I got to learn about up-and-coming new authors that she picked from her slush. Kelly Gay was one of the first. That was when I started following Kelly's blog. Within a few months, Colleen and Kelly sold her first novel, THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS. It will be published in the summer of 2009.

We've been commenting on each other's blogs over the past few months. She recently put up a post that I found especially interesting, so I asked her to write a guest post on the same subject. Well, that sort of expanded, and now we are going to check in with Kelly at various milestones on her pre-published career. What milestones, you ask? We'll work that out as we go along. In the meantime, expect a guest post from Kelly every now and then. Here is her first.

* * *
Switching Gears
by Kelly Gay

When Tia contacted me about writing a series of guest posts showcasing an author in the pre-debut stage, I was a little stunned. I mean, after all, I’m a big fan of Fantasy Debut and blogging here is quite an honor. Of course, I jumped at the chance! :)

While my urban fantasy, THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS, won’t be released until next summer, we’re hoping this insider series of the “in-between stage” (being contracted but not yet having a book on the shelf) will be of interest to Fantasy Debut readers. The topic that inspired Tia’s idea was “Switching Gears”, what it’s like to go from an aspiring writer mindset to that of contracted author.

It’s been six months since I signed with my agent and nearly three since I sold to Pocket Books in a two-book deal. And quite frankly, it’s taken a little while to get used to the idea and to my new routine. I was used to scouring the web for industry news, writing up queries, polishing partials [e.g. the first three chapters-Tia], pitching to editors and agents at conferences and being the best aspiring writer I could be. After a decade or so I became pretty good at it. I had a lot of confidence in my pursuit. That pursuit became my comfort zone. And after my sale, after all the furor died down, I suddenly felt out of my element. Stepping out of one's comfort zone can be an odd feeling.

And don’t get me wrong. I want to be exactly where I am. I didn’t work all those years not to be, and I wouldn’t change this for the world. I’m living my dream, and I'm insanely happy about it. But like anyone else with a life long dream, suddenly going from the pursuit of the dream to the actual dream itself is a huge, mind boggling change. I made it my business to know exactly what I was getting into. I researched, talked to published friends, and I have a good grip on what’s expected of me and the work I need to do. But what I didn’t expect was how surreal it felt to let go of my old routine and immerse myself into a new phase of the writer’s journey. I prepared myself in every way except mentally.

Now that I’ve had time to identify the feeling that gripped me, which is really just a temporary loss of confidence (and a little dose of panic) :), I realize that while this stage is new, and I’m out of my comfort zone, all those years of trying to sell myself and my work has made me strong and able to handle most anything. I may be a new author, but I’m also a skilled writing veteran with a thick skin. Writing manuscripts, queries and synopsis, meeting and pitching industry pros, overcoming my introverted nature to do those pitches, all of it has prepared me for this new role.

In retrospect, I realize it’s not so much about letting go of my old mentality as it is about using it and reshaping it in order to forge ahead into new territory. And it's okay to panic, or have an "Oh sh**! What now?" moment after you sell. I think everyone goes through this to some degree (and/or perhaps in differing stages of the game). As for me, I'm happily settling into my new role, savoring the new challenges thrown my way, and I cannot wait to share my imagination and the world of Underground with others.

I hope you enjoyed this little foray into my moment of switching gears panic and resulting commentary. :) There should be some interesting milestones along the way. Revisions, cover art, marketing, etc . . . Stay tuned! And thanks so much for stopping by!


Tia Nevitt said...

Gosh, I'm blushing! Thanks, Kelly!

K. said...

You're welcome, Tia! :) And thanks again for having me here. I think our series will be great fun and hopefully give some useful information and insight into this crazy business!

Theresa Ragan said...

Kelly, love this blog. I bet it does feel surreal. I can only imagine for now, but I have imagined that it would feel exactly how you describe. I can relate to the thick, too. Mine is bullet proof. LOL

Congratulations again and thanks for sharing your journey. Very interesting to be able to follow you along on your journey through contractville and beyond!

Theresa Ragan said...

I can relate to the thick what that was supposed to say. :)

Beth Trissel said...

Hey Kelly, enjoyed your honest from the heart sharing. I understand the comfort zone thing, big time. Nut you totally rock so you'll be fine. :)

Keli Gwyn said...


Thanks for sharing about this new stage in your journey. I can understand how such a dramatic shift could unsettle a person, but from the sounds of it, you are making the transition beautifully.

I look forward to your future posts about the milestones you're encountering as your "firstborn" gets ready to enter the world wrapped in a beautiful cover bearing your name. Be sure to let us know when they're to appear.

Robin Lemke said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing. I've sometimes wondered if I'll have to make a mental adjustment when (I hope when) I no longer have to query agents.

I'll look forward to future posts!

Tia Nevitt said...

I'm glad there's so much interest in watching an "emerging" author. And welcome to all of you who have not commented here before.

Kelly - I knew people would be interested in your story!

Tracey O'Hara said...

OH Kelly - I SOOOOOO know how you are feeling. No more scouring through the contests for the next one to enter, no more reading about what editors are looking for. Now it is - how can I write my next book quicker, what do I need to do to promote myself. Have they made a mistake and soon I will find out it wasn't my book that sold at all.

Okay - it has only been 3 weeks since I sold - it is still in that surreal - OMG am I imagining all this? Have I really achieved my dream?

I have. As have you. And I so totally understand what you are saying. And well put by the way.

JKB said...

Great post, Kelly!

Amy Atwell said...


You hit the mark with the switching gears. I haven't sold yet, but recently signed with an agency, and I find I'm having to switch gears just to that mindset. Thanks for helping me understand that it's normal. So many struggling writers dream of the accomplishment of selling, but I'm not sure how many are prepared for the host of new responsibilities that brings. Thanks for the glimmer of your new priorities.

K. said...

Hey all you Pixie Chicks, (((hugs))) thanks for stopping by!

Mystery Robin -- Thanks! (And you have a gorgeous blog, btw). :)

JKB -- Glad you came on over, and thanks for the nice comment!

C.J. Redwine said...

Hey Kelly! *waves*

Great post. I'm so focused on the "aspiring" role that I haven't even thought about anything that might come after. Lol. That's okay, I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl.

I can't wait to read TBPOD next summer. Thanks for hooking me up with this blog too! As a writer of UF, I'm always thrilled to find others who love my genre! =)

Louisa Cornell said...

Hey Pixie Chick!! Still grinning over your sale! YAY!

It never occurred to me that when you finally sell EVERYTHING changes! Wow! It is a great change to be sure, but it has to be one of the strangest most disconcerting things to happen to a writer.

I think your write. All of those characteristics you developed to enable you to get out there and sell your book surely have to help you deal with the adjustment.

Then again, I don't think anything prepares you for that dreaded word .... DEADLINE!!! EEEEK!

I do know, however, that you, Kelly, will handle it with Pixie style and grace.

Courtney Milan said...


I'm in the same stage as you, and you're right--it's hard to break old habits! I still catch myself reading contest announcements, and look at the final judges, before remembering--oh yeah, I have one of those. :)

Looking forward to your debut. It's going to be awesome!

Kay Cassidy said...

Amen, Kelly!

I think it's a definite advantage when you've worked long and hard to get to the debut stage. Even though the process of getting there isn't always a laugh riot *vbg*, isn't it a huge blessing to know that you have the skills to tackle whatever comes your way now? That's a big win in itself. Go you!

Susan Anne Mason said...


Nicely done! You've expressed the process so eloquently.

I imagine I'll be terrified if my turn ever comes!

Congratulations. Enjoy the journey!


K. said...

Thanks a bunch, CJ, Louisa, Courtney, Kay and Sue! It's great to see you all here! :)

Unknown said...

Hi Kelly,

I enjoyed your post. I'm another "in-betweener" and, as others have said, you've really captured the mental adjustment an offer sets off. I've found the switch from "How can I get an editor to notice my book?" to "How can I get readers to notice my book?" to be somewhat overwhelming--it feels like a much bigger job. But my UF won't be out until January 2010, so I've got some time to figure it out.

I've published several tech books, and the difference between tech publishers and fiction publishers has also required a major shifting of gears. Tech publishing has to move fast to keep up with the technology (esp. the Web applications I write about), so the 12-18 months between acceptance and publication for fiction is painful!

I'm looking forward to reading more of your thoughts as you move from a contract to publication. It's great to see someone else going through the process for the first time.

Nancy Holzner

Anonymous said...

Really great post! I've kind of wondered how hard it will be to switch from aspiring author to contracted author. This gives me a nice perspective.

Jax Cassidy said...

Great blog! Every author's journey is different but you worked hard to get to where you are and I'm very excited about your upcoming release! :)

Amie Stuart said...

Great post Kelly....I call it the Post-Sale Freak-Out :)

Deborah Blake said...

Hi Kelly,
Great post! I am the published author of nonfiction books (on Witchcraft, from Llewellyn Pub.) but still in the midst of the agent search for my fiction. I get thrown sometimes by trying to switch "hats" between my reasonably-successful published author persona and my "oh, goddess, when am I going to find someone who likes my fiction" unpublished author persona. My second NF book just arrived at my house, and I love the way it looks, did an author event where it was well received, etc.--but the thrill was a little tainted by the fact that nothing much seems to be happening on the other side of things. I feel a bit schizophrenic at times...
It is nice to read about other authors' experiences.
BTW, I saw that you said you got a book deal three years ago and an agent six months ago. Did I get that wrong? Isn't that the reverse of how things usually happen? I'm curious about how this came about, if you don't mind sharing that with us.

clindsay said...

Deborah -

Actually, you misread that. Kelly got an agent six months ago and a book deal three months ago.



Anonymous said...

Hi, came over from The Swivet!

Thanks very much, Kelly, for sharing your experiences in this post. As one who's just a couple steps behind you, I find it very valuable to get a glimpse at how I might need to prepare myself. :) Looking forward to seeing further posts from you on the topic!

K. said...

Big congrats on your sale, Nancy! :D

Thanks for nice words, superwench!

Jax! Thanks for stopping by woman! :)

LOL Amie. Definitely a term I can apply to myself!

Deborah -- thanks for posting! I can totally relate to the schizo part. ;-)

Aw, thanks, Anna! :)