Kay Marshall Strom is the author of thirty-six published books, including her most recent, The Second-Half Adventure: Don’t Just Retire-Use Your Time, Skills & Resources to Change the World. Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, curriculum, stories for children, two prize-winning screenplays, and booklets for writers. Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, and special events throughout the country. She and her husband Dan Kline love to travel, and more and more Kay’s writing and speaking take her around the word. To find out more about Kay, or for contact information, check her website at www.kaystrom.com.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Kay. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
This is book number 34 for me. I have two others finished and scheduled for release, and am under contract for another fiction trilogy, that one set in India.
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
Special Women of the Bible, a book of 10 Bible stories for children featuring Bible women. It was published by Concordia in the 1980s.
Actually, it was accepted by the first editor who saw it. But here is why… I took the rough (and I mean rough!) manuscript to a writers’ conference, and while I was there, I learned much of what I should have known before I ever started. I rewrote the proposal and proposal chapters and got a second chance. That’s part of the reason I’m such a proponent of good writers conferences.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
Although I had that first book published right off, I certainly have experienced my share of rejection slips—so many I refuse to count them! I always say it’s not time to give up until you have collected enough rejection slips to paper your bathroom. Even the word “rejection” is too disheartening to remain in a writer’s vocabulary. Writers absolutely must develop elephant-tough skin!
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Concordia had a series of children’s books I just loved (the Arch books) and I longed to have my book be in that series. It wasn’t, but I was very pleased with what they with it.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I really thought I had achieved my ultimate dream. My family and I celebrated by going out to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. That’s became a tradition, by the way. Still today, when a new book comes out, we go out to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate. Now, with a higher advance, I can also get egg rolls!
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
My mother-in-law arranged for a book signing at a huge Christian bookstore in San Diego, California, where she lived. I took four outfits to the book signing, because I could not decide what to wear. Also, I wrote up a press release for our local newspaper, which resulted in my first ever speaking engagement.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
Nope! Writers conference is the route I suggest to writers all the time.
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
Oh, let me count the ways! My first three books were all written in long hand. Can you believe it? But here’s the main way I’ve grown as an author: Back then, I said to an editor, “Tell me what you will publish and I will write it.” Now I say, “I am writing from my own burning passion. I’d love to have you publish it, but if you say no, I shall write it anyway.”
Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
In my urgency to stay published, I tried hard to be all things for all editors. I wasn’t and never can be. It took many years for me to find my own passions and write to them.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
My last ten or so books concern the general theme of calling the Church in the U.S. to find it’s place in the worldwide body of Christ. When I first started this—right after September 11, 2001—one publisher after another told me, “Face it, Kay, Christians in American simply don’t care about people outside our borders.” My biggest achievement is helping to prove them wrong.
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
Well, my original profession was elementary school teacher. That was pretty cool. One time a little boy in my class was making a safety poster and he drew his house with a bunch of old wood piled up in back. Then, with typical third grade spelling, he wrote his caption: Old broads are dangerous. I loved that poster! Whether writer, teacher, or whatever, I want to be a dangerous old broad!
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I have been able to combine the two, because I’ve had the opportunity to teach writing. I love that!
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
Well, about three years older, but otherwise, just about the same as now: Still pumping out the books and still loving every minute of it.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Never give up! Keep on writing. Everyone gets better and better; no one gets worse and worse.
Kay Marshall Strom is on a virtual book tour throughout the months of January and February 2010. If you’d like to see her official tour page, click here.