- GUEST AUTHOR -
Today, I interview an author from Vermont, U.S.A, who is surrounded by all sorts of animals.
Welcome, Kris ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
My name is Kris Francoeur, and I am a public school educator and writer living in Vermont, USA. I always wrote stories, even as a child, but didn’t really think about trying to get them published until I was in my twenties. Then, our middle son Sam was born, and he would not take a nap as a baby, but he would take some quiet time each afternoon. While he rested, I would write stories, which then became novels. Over time, I started submitting them to agents and publishers, got rejected a lot, would put it aside, and eventually, I would start writing again.
In 2013, Sam died of an accidental drug (opioid) overdose. Sam was one of the biggest supporters of my writing dream, and after his death, I wanted to honor his belief in my writing. So I hired a great editor, started submitting my novels again, and eventually signed publishing contracts on three romance novels. All three novels (The Phone Call, That One Small Omission and More Than I Can Say) have now been published by Solstice Publishing.
Following Sam’s death, I posted daily on social media about my grief journey. Over time, many people asked me to turn those posts into a book. My memoir, Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude was signed by Morgan James Publishing, the e-book has released, and the print version will be in stores in May 2019.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
My first published novel came out on October 9, 2017.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
It depends on what I am writing. For my novels, usually they start with either a dream, or something I see around me, and they just flow. Sometimes the characters make decisions or take paths I try to change, and they seem to have a mind of their own.
For my memoir, I mapped out the 30 month time frame covered, and built it very systematically.
In both types of writing, I work with two great editors. One can be brutal in her assessments, the other is much more gentle, but together, they push me to write as well as I can.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
In fiction, I love seeing where the stories go. In non-fiction, I love hearing about how my work impacts other people.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I love writing, absolutely adore editing, but get frustrated with some of the marketing, social media, etc. that seems to be necessary to promote your works.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
A mother, wife, daughter, grandmother, alpaca farmer, spinner (alpaca fiber), gardener, public school teacher (Special Education and Spanish), public school assistant principal and now principal.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
The most exciting? My first publishing contract! What makes me proudest? The reaction that Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude has received.
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Right now I am almost done the first draft of my fourth novel, am working on my fifth novel, have a draft of a journal for pre-teens and teens, and am working on a follow-up to Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
My husband and children, and the love that our Sam inspired and gave to everyone he knew.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
Contemporary romance novels, non-fiction self-help, and memoirs.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Hire a professional editor! You may have incredible family and friends, some with college degrees in writing or English, but they can’t be brutal enough if they love you. Hire someone who will be absolutely ruthless in helping you be the best writer you can be.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Never! Sometimes the words come slowly, sometimes they pour out, but when I do get “stuck” I start at the beginning of a work in progress, and start editing it, and within minutes, I am writing madly again.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
Any time, any place. As long as I have a laptop, tablet or smart phone, I can write. I do all first drafts in google docs, so as long as I have internet, I am good to go.
For editing, I do print out a hard copy, put it in a binder, and go at it with a brightly colored pen.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
In my chair near the woodstove, with music in the background.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
My greatest joys in writing are that I achieved what I set out to do in becoming a published author. The ultimate greatest joy is when someone comes up to me, or sends me a message, and says that one of my books has touched them, and has mattered to them. What more could I ask for?
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
For fiction, Janet Evanovich.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
A reader recently compared my book on grief to one by C.S.Lewis, and I was so thrilled. The second biggest compliment was when a reader posted online that I was her favourite author, and told her friends to read my novels.
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
A reader once wrote a review saying that the formatting of one of my novels (in e-book) was done poorly – the formatting was done properly, and it bothered me that the review wasn’t about my writing at all.
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Absolutely! Alpacas show up in my novels, most of my fiction takes place in New England, where I live, and I like to mention local places. My non-fiction is completely related to my own grief journey.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
My family, my vegetable gardens, spinning, knitting, being in nature.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
I did! I used professional editors prior to submitting them for the final round of submissions, and then worked with the editors and proofreaders of my publishers prior to the final, final version that was published. I can’t stress enough how important I think it is to have a professional editor look at your work!
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
My perfect day is getting up, having coffee with my husband by the woodstove or on the porch in the summer. Then we would work together in the gardens or on our land, then while he worked on his projects, I would write. Dinner would be with our children, talking about the day. Then after dinner, more time to write, edit or read, then time to watch the Boston Red Sox together.
23. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
That as a whole, humans need to focus more on compassion and empathy, and on mental health needs.
25. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I plan to continue writing both fiction and non-fiction, and broaden my speaking engagements. I would love to reach a point where I am doing some teaching of pre-service teachers and school administrators at the college level, and writing the rest of the time.
26. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
I haven’t tried doing a book trailers yet, so I don’t have an opinion on this.
27. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
I do see some of me in my characters. Usually it is in their favourite foods or in their hobbies.
28. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
I have found moments of frustration with the publishing industry when I have held misconceptions about the process or the industry. For me, that frustration has been alleviated by doing research, asking clarifying questions, and talking to other published authors.
29. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
Never! I worked too hard to get my first publishing contract, and I love writing too much to stop.
30. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
More Than I Can Say was my novel favourite to write, as I really love the characters, and I wrote it in a much shorter period of time, so it didn’t ever get stale.
31. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER?
For me, it was having a publishing house offer me a contract because it meant that they (as a company) believed in my work. Hearing from readers that my books matter also makes me feel very successful!
32. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
With both the fiction, and the memoir, they should walk away with the belief that love is what truly matters, and no matter what happened in your past, you can find joy and hope.
33. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
I have not written a screenplay, but I would love to have any of my books made into a movie.
34. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
A lot of thought goes into designing a book cover. For my most recent novel and my memoir, the drafts of the covers went back and forth until they were exactly what I wanted, and I absolutely love them.
35. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
To have my writing become my primary profession, and be able to spend more time on our farm.
36. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
Both publishers recommend that I have an author’s webpage and use social media to promote my works. Overall, I like doing so, but there are times when I feel that I “have to” do a post, or tweet, etc. That can get old fast.
37. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
38. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Dedicated, loyal, tenacious, loving, and creative.
39. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
When people come up and say, “Oh, I was going to write a book,” like it is the easiest thing in the world. I encourage anyone to write if they want to, but don’t diminish the accomplishments of others!
40. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
The Quiet Warrior, by Tom Dutta. It was the second time I read it, and I greatly recommend it!
41. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
In the end, how well she loved was all that mattered.
42. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
Having lost an adult child, the thing that would make me happiest is to have him come walking through the front door, looking for his favorite meal. But since I know that can’t happen, what would make me happier than I am now would be us to have more time to spend with our children and grandchildren, for my husband and I to have more time to work on our land, and more time for writing.
43. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Being a published author doesn’t happen overnight. You can try, try, try, and you will (probably) get rejected a lot. But if you keep trying, get the infrastructure in place, and believe in your work, it will happen.
Clancy's comment: Thank you, and well done, Kris. You live in a nice part of the world. Keep writing.