Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kendra Interview

Today I'm interviewing Kendra E. Ardnek, author of The Poison Kiss. Let's go!

Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a mix of both?
I'm a planster. I usually have a plan in my head - often a rather detailed plan - but writing down said plan will kill my inspiration. I like to keep my options open and fluid, but I want to know where I'm going and a basic map for how to get there. Although, I've noticed that the longer I've been writing, the more and more my writing process is leaning towards planning.

What does your editing process look like?
First of all, if a book is more than 20,000 words, I NEVER edit the first draft. I ALWAYS rewrite it. The levels of rewrite vary - The Ankulen, for instance, was moderate as I still followed the same table of contents. Water Princess, Fire Prince, and Lady Dragon, Tela Du were completely rebuilt and restructured from the ground up - LDTD especially. The only book that I didn't rewrite to any degree was Sew, it's a Quest, and I regretted that greatly, for, though the book was good, it could have been a LOT better. I rectified it this spring with an overhaul revision, but what it needed was a full-on rewrite, and I couldn't do that to a book that I had already published. I had to at least keep MOST of the text and story intact.
   My focus is usually on the first 20-50% of the book, as that's the part of the book where I was still trying to (a) discover who my characters are and (b) what my world is. My rewrite is usually to solidify character development, weed out info-dumping at the same time as trying to make worldbuilding clearer (a tricky balance to be certain), and, in general, restructuring my first several chapters so that they're as gripping and ensnaring as they could possibly be, as it is those first few chapters that must sell the book. And yes, I rewrite the second half of the book, too, as I will usually have made Big Changes in the first part.
   Once I have my second, or third, or even fifteenth draft that I'm finally comfortable with how it's structured, I let it sit for a month or two while I focus on other projects. Then I'll usually email it to my kindle and remove any love I have for the story from my heart as I mark the book up. I'm brutal to my own writing. "How Many Notes Can I Leave Per Page" is my favorite game. 
   Then I take all of the notes that I left myself and apply about 90% of them. Some of them, I decide aren't necessary or feasible. 
   Then I recruit beta readers and send the draft off to them. I will then combine any feedback that was sent to me in "Notes on the document" format into one doc so that I can see all issues side by side. If I see that something bothers multiple readers, I know that it's something that I need to change or at least address. If there are mixed feelings on an issue, it's up to me.
   Then I'll do one more read through on my own, usually with Grammarly turned on, as I edit the book for the final version. 

How heavily do you depend on your beta readers? Why?
Pretty heavily. They're my test audience. If they take issue with something, even mildly, I know that it's something that paid readers are going to bash me to kingdom come and back over. Trust me. Readers are cruel and nasty and they WILL do it, no qualms about your feelings. If they, for any reason, found your book dull, or cliche, or they decided that they hated your main character... it's gonna happen.
   Also, because I'm poor and can't afford editors, my beta readers usually fill that role. I have one or two who are trying to create a portfolio for themselves, and another whom I have an Agreement with. I don't require an edit out of my betas, usually leaving it up to them what sort of feedback they give, but I have several who consistently give me an edit. It's my own beta style, and most of the girls know that, should I ever beta for them, I'll give them back an edit just as thorough. 
   Finally, they're also my hype crew. They get to read the book early, and they get to get excited about the book early. It's usually awesome.

How do you decide on a cover?
90% of my decision is usually "What can I create with the skills and resources that I have that still captures the heart of this book and will be enticing to readers." I still can't pretend to be a master of this science. I'm in the process of rereleasing all of my novels with new covers next month, though, if anyone would like to jump on that bandwagon (and possibly win a full signed collection of those novels).

I've always found your blurb interesting. Any tips?
1. Introduce the main character and main plot.
2. Address the external conflict and the character's internal struggles.
3. Leave the last line open ended. Raise a question. Make your readers want to know the answer.
4. Keep it short, but make it interesting. 
5. Also, keep it accurate. Don't sell something that isn't the book that you wrote.

How does writing a series differ from writing a stand-alone?
I think the biggest thing is continuity. With a series, you aren't building every world and story from scratch. You have to keep things consistent from book to book. There's less room for random decisions to change a character's name.
   Also, marketing's a bit different, especially with the sequels. I probably would not have gone back and revised Sew as thoroughly as I did if it weren't the first book of a series that I plan to be writing for many years to come.

Yes, she really is awesome, and I'm blessed to know her. But y'all know what's almost as awesome as her? The fact that three of her books are free! Don't believe me? Take a look!

Sew, It's a Quest (Permafree):



  1. I thought I commented on here, but apparently it didn't go through . . .

    I love your interview! Kendra, your writing process sounds a lot like mine, only more in-depth . . . of course, you're a published author and I'm not, so there's probably a reason for that.

    Also, regarding the first question- I think that as an author's books become longer and more complicated, that author will naturally tend more and more towards planning just to keep it all straight and minimize editing stress.

    1. I think mine is 90% trying to streamline my writing process so that I can get books published faster.