Friday, February 20, 2015

Guest Post by Author Merritt Kelly

My Journey To Publication by Merritt Kelly

My digital debut novel has just been released through Soul MatePublishing. It's been a very long road and there's a very long way to go. There are no expectations of getting on the New York Times Bestseller List just yet but I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. I hope to have a long and storied (pun intended) career as a writer. But I am a late bloomer and have a lot time to make up.

I have been in love with words for as long as I can remember. I was mauled by a dog as a kid and as a result I had scars on my face. I also had teeth that stuck out(two rounds of braces and jaw surgery later fixed that problem). I was skinny and hairy and pale. I knew I would never be called a beauty. But maybe if I could talk and entertain no one would notice how ugly I was and how ugly I felt. At least that's how it began. I found solace in song and dance and writing. My love and my talent grew and people began to call me bright and funny. It felt good. At ten I tried to write my first play but I had no idea what I was doing. It was doomed to failure.

Writing of all kinds kept me afloat in a world that didn't appreciate me. I wanted to be a dancer but I started too late. I wanted to be an actress but was told I wasn't pretty enough or good enough. Writing was what was left. But unless you hit the big time it doesn't pay the bills.

For some reason people who are involved in the arts are expected to give their work away. And working for free will leave you homeless, even if it's a good way to build your portfolio. So like every other artist I had a series of day jobs. My gift for gab meant I was good at sales. I sold all kinds of things from cosmetics to china, fine crystal and shoes. The writer's life continued to beckon but my first few attempts at publication for pay failed miserably.

Life, marriage and parenthood meant I put it all on the back burner for years. But cancer, my own, my sister's and my mother's taught me that life is too short not to follow your dreams and too short to do a job you hate. By this time I was burned out on retail and with the support of my wonderful husband I decided it was time to devote myself full-time to my writing career.

I studied. I learned my craft. I carefully selected a genre that welcomed new writers as a way to break into an already crowded field. Writing romance. Really? Yes. Really. First off it's a lot harder than it sounds. Second there are number of New York Times best selling authors who started out their careers in romance. Stella Cameron comes to mind. I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. I even tried my hand at self-publishing. I failed miserably, but it was a learning experience. I went back and reworked some of the manuscripts I'd written years before. It didn't help. They were still contrived and amateurish. It was time for some fresh inspiration.

I became obsessed with the Food Network. And the Cooking Channel. I didn't take notes when I watched. I was just fascinated by these people who could create such delightful, edible, art, romance and comfort on a plate. I came to the conclusion that food was the new sex. The whole country was obsessed with being food rock stars. The explosion of food competition shows caught my attention.

If food was the new sex the whole country wanted to be seduced. What about a romance based on a food show about the seductive powers of food? I loved it!

In the months that followed I learned about molecular gastronomy and cooking and how to balance the vocabulary of each and keep the romance story alive. My novel differed from other romance novels in that at the center are a hero and a heroine who had goals and lives before they met. Love was not the goal of book. Winning the job as host of the show to pay off debts or launch a culinary empire was. My characters were warm, and funny. They had friends and family. They were people. Real people readers would identify with. I wanted to be my heroine. I wanted to be in love with my hero. Finally, maybe I had gotten it right.

I slaved for months, certain I'd found the “formula” I'd been seeking. Now I had to find a publisher. Much easier than it sounds. The market is glutted with bad fiction, self-published work and publishers who just want money. Most of them now want you to already have a career. They aren't interested in developing new talent or investing in new talent. That's when I discovered digital publishing.

The first two submissions I made came back in short order. I spent more time trying to polish the manuscript and develop a better pitch in my query letter. It paid off. The fourth one I queried was interested. After a few emails back and forth they requested my manuscript, they asked to publish it.

They may even be interested in one of my other manuscripts.

It's like a love affair. When we are in love we can't believe someone loves us as we are. We can't wait to see what a lifetime together will bring. When we are in each other' s company we feel at home. As a writer I have longed for a home for my work. A place where it is accepted, praised and loved. Maybe now I can prove I'm worthy, to others in the industry, and those who believed in me. but mostly to myself. It would be wonderful if that ugly little girl could feel like she was really good at something after all.

About the author:

Merritt Kelly has been in love with the written word as long as she can remember. She's a freelance writer, author, and columnist whose articles have appeared in the Colfax Gazette, Palouse Journal, and the Moscow/Daily News. Her work on the web can be seen on Paperdriods, DigiYoo, LexiYoga and HaveHeart Magazine websites under her real name Carol Traulsen. She has written on a variety of topics including the war in Kosovo, the death penalty, grief, coping with a cozy kitchen and cooking.

Merritt Kelly is a pen name she chose to honor her late mother who always believed in her writing ability. When she's not writing she's cooking, walking or reading. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, her son and her cat.

She loves to laugh, all the music in the Guardians Of The Galaxy, trying new foods, a good glass of wine and almost anything chocolate. Her first novel, Culinary Seduction, a foodie/Chick lit romance is set for release in April of 2015.

Find out more about Merritt on her website.  You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

About Culinary Seduction:

Food is the new sex and cheftestants Andrea Claire and Danny Miller are battling it out to see who becomes the new high priest or priestess. The two face off in a contest for hosting duties of new show called Culinary Seduction.

Chef Andrea Claire is a woman who knows what she wants, and what she wants is to build her own culinary empire. Hosting the show would give her the injection of cash she needs to finally get a store front for her catering business and give her the credibility she seeks. Her food is infused with her warmth and passion.

Bad boy chef Danny Miller's bold flavors and state-of-the-art techniques in molecular gastronomy set him apart from the pack. Hosting the show would raise the profile of his restaurant and he could pay what he owes the bank and his grandmother.

Will his talent be enough to garner him the win? Or will Andre's seductive on camera personality and obvious passion for cooking win out? Their on air chemistry is undeniable. The test kitchens at Cuisine Channel have never been so hot!

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