Category Archives: Kim May

Kim May


I don’t recommend taking bets on what questions will be asked at a book signing. Not only is it frowned upon in respectable establishments like bookstores, if I’m in the pool I’d win nine times out of ten. Why? Though the voices and faces may change, the questions are often the same. The one I hear the most is “what is the most important advice you were ever given?” The most common answer? “Write the story.”

Now, I’ve asked my fair share of questions. Surprisingly this hasn’t been one of them. I have a good work ethic so sitting down to write has never been a problem. The part that gave me trouble was in the doing. I would stare at the screen for hours thinking about how I wanted to phrase a particular sentence or searching for the perfect adjective. I still finished the story. I just took forever doing it. My output made George R. R. Martin look like Brandon Sanderson.

For years I was convinced that it wouldn’t matter what trick I tried. I was a slow writer, end of discussion. It wasn’t until a dear friend sat me down and said four words that I realized how wrong I was.

What were those words?

Well, I can’t repeat the exact words in polite society but the nice version would be “write the freaking sentence.” I’ve abbreviated it to WtFS.

While the concept is very similar to “write the story”, the primary focus of WtFS is to stop dithering over vocabulary, sweating over punctuation, and even (Gasp!) leave the incomplete sentence alone. The sentence doesn’t have to be perfect, and likewise the story as a whole doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be on the page. When it’s complete there will be plenty of time to dither, sweat, and correct.

I applied this concept to my writing in January of 2013. Within a week my wordcount increased by a third. By the end of March my count had doubled. It was incredible and liberating and if it hadn’t happened before my eyes I never would have believed it. If I had received this wisdom in high school I could have finished that YA paranormal I started Junior year. (Don’t laugh. I was ahead of the curve. No one was writing that in 1996.) If someone told me to WtFS in grade school I could have finished that Rose Petal Place fanfic. (Seriously, don’t laugh. That show was awesome!)

Okay, so both of those would probably still would have been cast into the proverbial trunk — buried at the bottom, in shame — and that’s okay. They would have been finished and I wouldn’t have spent half my life with that ridiculous limitation in my head. Because you know what? The words I’ve put down since starting WtFS haven’t sucked. I made my first three sales this year on stories that had little or no revisions. Good things can happen when you trust your instincts and simply write the freaking sentence.

I’m Friends With Who?

As an author, reader, and bookseller, there are few things I enjoy more than talking about books I loved. Doesn’t matter if the story is mine or someone else’s. Sharing a literary squee with likeminded people makes me happy and being so immersed in the book world gives me ample opportunity to have these squeeversations. However since becoming a writer I’ve lost count of the number of times the following has happened:

Person: (insert inquiry about when the next book is coming out or an obscure question about something in the world of the story.)

Me: Last time I talked to them they said —

Person: Wait, a minute. You know them?

Me: Well yeah. They’re a friend of mine. We had dinner last week.

Person: What?! Do you have pictures? You’re so lucky! I’d love to meet them! Can you introduce me the next time they’re in town?


The OMG reaction always throws me off. I don’t consider myself lucky to know so many amazing authors. To me it’s the result of many hours spent networking, attending events and conventions, and of being a colleague. I paid my dues and became a member of the club, so to speak. Having dinner with them, running into them in the hallway, or texting them late at night is normal. I often forget that they’re a famous author. To me they’re just Mary, Ken, Brent, Dan, Diana, Kevin… It isn’t until someone’s jaw drops that I remember they’re famous.

I probably should count myself fortunate since a lot of authors either live in or pass through the Pacific Northwest on tour there’s no shortage of opportunities to meet up. I have colleagues that live in less traveled areas that are envious of my contact list. But it’s still a hard concept to swallow because it happens so often — which probably sounds weird.

What will really be weird is the day when someone can say the same about me. I can look back and say “I knew Jon Heder (a.k.a. Napoleon Dynomite) back when.” Knowing others can say the same about me after I’ve made it big…yeah, that will blow my mind. But will make it even more awesome to be in this industry. What more can anyone ask for in life than to make a living doing the thing you love, having a reputation for doing it well, and being admired by others for it?

What can I say? I love being a writer. It’s full of awesome.


The Candy Crush Method

Admit it. You play it. Even if you don’t want to admit it you know exactly what level you’re on. I’m on 170 which isn’t as impressive as it sounds when you consider that I’ve been playing for over a year. Every time they threw a new curve it took me a few tries to puzzle out how to finagle the pieces in the moves or time allotted.

The change from a casual player to a savvy strategist is very similar to the shift I’ve had to make recently in my professional life. Now that I’ve made my first professional sales I’ve had to up my game. Before, if I didn’t make a deadline it wasn’t that big of a deal because they were self-imposed. Real deadlines aren’t as accommodating. I’ve had to become a lot better at shifting the pieces around in order to line everything up for completion.

For example, just because I can stay up until 1am writing doesn’t mean that I should — especially if I have to work the next day. Likewise just because I only need one week to complete copy edits doesn’t mean that I can afford to wait until a week before the due date to start. Life happens and even though it’s impossible to plan for monkey-throwing wrenches, giving myself that buffer period has been a life saver more than once this year.

I know it sounds pessimistic to plan for things to go wrong but in my opinion that’s part of being a professional. By the time your first title hits the shelves you’ve been writing long enough to know what life events and health conditions affect your writing. If copy edits are due back in X weeks it’s important to know that the striped candy of vacation is going to kill productivity on week one, the chocolate sprinkled best friend’s wedding is going to wipe out several days, and the exploding candy of other deadlines is going to demand your attention sooner rather than later.

Unlike the game, when things slip through your fingers you can’t restart the level or wait for your lives to replenish. A missed deadline upsets publishing schedules, and the lives of everyone involved. It can leave a stain on your reputation that could take years to remove. It’s better to learn to juggle and use your resources to your advantage to turn manuscripts in on time. Good scheduling skills and keeping realistic expectations for your output will keep you sane while you produce at the rate that keep fans, publishers, and colleagues happy.

Heroines, Highlanders, and Robots! Oh, my!

One of my favorite books is The Pleasure Master by Nina Bangs. No! No! Don’t run away! It’s not what you think.

I know, the title sounds like the book a soccer mom would secretly have on her e-reader. While it is a romance novel, it’s not 50 shades of anything. For a lot of women that would mean it’s a nice, sweet read for grandma but not meaty enough for their tastes. Believe me, this book doesn’t disappoint.

pleasuremasterKathy, our modern-day heroine, is overworked, overstressed, and just got out of a bad marriage. When she cried out to the universe that she needs a sunny vacation she didn’t expect the universe to answer by transporting her to the highlands of Scotland…four-hundred and fifty years in the past. Somehow she has to find her way back home and the only help to be had comes from a sexy highlander (the Pleasure Master) and a talking toy robot.

For those well read in the genre, you’re probably thinking “…and she meets the Pleasure Master, he seduces her, and they live happily ever after.” Well, yes and no. I’m not going to spoil the book but I will say that as a divorced woman I appreciate that Nina made Kathy a strong, intelligent woman that’s more interested in a healthy relationship than a quick roll in the hay with a hot guy.

I think Henry Fonda said it best in the 1968 version of Yours, Mine and Ours: “It isn’t going to a bed with a man that proves you’re in love with him; it’s getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful everyday world with him that counts.” This book does a wonderful job of illustrating that while simultaneously maintaing the delicious tension between the couple and balancing it with a healthy dose of humor (provided by the toy robot). This book is what all romance novels should be — a fun, entertaining romp through imagination that doesn’t rely on bad decisions or lust to bring two people together. It makes the happy ending much more satisfying.