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Monday, 6 September 2010

An interview wih chicklit author Stephanie Haefner

A Bitch Named Karma
by
Stephanie Haefner

Stephanie Haefner is a lady after my own heart - a chicklit lover! People, or perhaps I should say, women like us cannot take life too seriously. We admire the male bod, and other women's clothes and shoes. We are romantics (nothing wrong with that), and enjoy a good girly read.


Stephanie Haefner's debut novel is called A Bitch Named Karma. Check out the trailer on youtube. She has had shorter works published in various magazines, which you can find out about if you visit her at http://www.stephaniehaefnerthewriter.com./ or find her on her blog: http://thewriterscocoon.blogspot.com/ or website: http://www.freewebs.com/stephaniehaefner/

Here's what I asked Stephanie Haefner...

This is your debut novel, but is it your first novel you have actually written?
No, it is not the first I've written, but it is the second. The first was this crazy long story that has so much of myself poured into it. I love that story, but it is so green! Someday I may go back to it and try and salvage it...I know there is a lot in it that's worth saving! A Bitch Named Karma was my second attempt at novel-length fiction and it has come a long way since I first typed "The End". I also have a third MS titled Spellbound, that I am hoping will find a home someday!

How does it compare with other chick novels/what makes it different?
I'd say it compares with other chick lit in that it is a story about a woman with a fabulous life and friends and a sexy boyfriend, a shoe obsession, and it all falls apart. The difference lies in that Lexi, my main character, finds her new life to be completely different, but it's the perfect life for her...one she never even knew she wanted.

What audience is the book intended? (ie YA, adult)
Lexi is a very sassy lady and she uses quite a bit of "colorful" language. There is some sex in the book, but it's not graphic at all. If a parent read the book first, and was okay with their teen reading a story with 4-letter words, then the the story might be pretty inspiring for a teen. It's a story of finding love where you didn't expect and that judging covers is not the way to go through life. (I have two teen cousins who want to read it, 19 and 17)

How long did it take you to write it, and how many drafts?

An actual number of drafts, I have no clue!! LOL! The first draft was written in about two months. Can't explain it. The words just flowed effortlessly! I spent several months editing and perfecting it before my initial query-go-round with it. It went well, actually, but didn't end how I'd hoped. After that it sat, then went through a few more rounds of edits and a plot restructure. I queried again, with no luck. I finally found a home with Lyrical Press, a primarily digital publisher.

Can you say you are a chicklit author, or have you dabbled with other genres?
I can proudly say I am a chick lit author!! (Don't get me started on the stigmas of the genre!) I never start a project with a specific genre in mind...I just write and then classify later. But almost everything ends up being chick lit/women's fiction. I did write one novellette that I classify as romance, but the main character still undergoes a major change.

Do you have a favourite scene in the book? Can we have a snippet?
Hmmm...well...my favorite scene is the very end and I don't want to give that away!! :) I'll give you another great scene instead!

I walked down the hall confident as my Manolo Blahniks click-clacked on the marble, ready to raise some hell. A hand-written sign had been plastered to the door: Sheila Brown— Editor. The scent of a black Sharpie wafted into my nostrils as I pounded on the door. I heard a screechy “Come in” and found a middle-aged woman sitting behind the desk.
She flipped through a manuscript and didn't look up when I strode through the door.
“Sit, Ms. Marshall.”
“I didn't tell you who I am.” I wanted to show off my tough side.
“I already know,” she said and finally looked up at me. A fluorescent shade of pink lipstick decorated her lips, doing nothing to improve her ghastly pale skin and salt-and-pepper bob. “I've read all our books, including the latest.”
“Oh, I see.”
She was well prepared for only being on the job one day.
“Marisol Takes Manhattan, your newest and first in a series.” She paused to push her glasses up on her nose, and I awaited her praise. “It absolutely sucks.”
Feeling like a vacuum had sucked all the air out of my lungs, I struggled for oxygen. Everything around me went gray and the words “absolutely sucks” echoed in my brain over and over. I'd slaved over this book for the better part of six months, making every sentence perfect.
A shrill laugh blared into my ears. It sounded familiar. I couldn't place it, but knew it didn't come from Sheila. She sat emotionless.
“What do you mean? Are you sure you read the whole thing?”
“Yes, every boring, plotless, cliché-filled word.”
The room started to spin and a tingle radiated throughout my legs. Fearful that I might black out, I moved a box of office supplies from a chair and sat down. I breathed slowly and deeply, staring at her, wondering if I'd heard her right. How could she possibly say that? I was Lexi Marshall—a multi-published author. Women adored my books. They devoured them. This malicious statement insulted every fiber of my being.
My temperature began to rise as bewilderment changed to anger. Ms. Editor handed me my disc, then ripped some sheets from a legal pad and shoved those at me, too. They were filled top to bottom with chicken scratch.
“I made notes for you. Revise and have it back to me in two weeks.”
Finally finding the confidence and attitude I'd possessed before entering her office, I asked, “And what if I refuse?”
“Then you can try and sell your garbage to another publisher.”
Are you agented?
I am not, but not for lack of trying. I've done the query-go-round and though I found some success, it didn't land me an agent. I will always try to find an agent with any new projects I complete. An agent can help get me a deal with a big publishing house, who will get my work in front of a larger audience.

Who are you published with?
Lyrical Press Inc is my publisher and they have been fantastic! They are primarily digital but offer select titles in print through a POD printer.

Are you a full time writer?
I consider myself a full-time writer though it's extremely rare that I can actually put in a full day's worth of writing! I have two children, one of which is school age. I juggle my time between both kids, school activities, house work, etc... I write when I can. When my son naps and it's completely silent in my house, I get to work on my latest project!

Do you have any writing experience? Ie have you worked as a journalist, completed a university writing degree?
I have no formal writing experience, though I did write several articles for local newspapers when I was a teen. I was the reporter for a club I was the member of and would send in articles about club happenings. I was accepted for a journalism program at one of my city's colleges but decided on a different career path. I spent over a decade working in the floral industry.

What are you working on now? How far along have you got?
I am halfway though Karma Kameleon, the sequel to A Bitch Named Karma! I did a ton of writing in July and the month of August I decided to spend editing the first half and ensuring that the story is going exactly where I want/need it to go! The plan is to get back to writing the rest of the story when my daughter goes back to school the first week of September, finishing it by mid October.

What is your experience with POD. And do you do your own marketing?
Well, technically my book is not officially for sale in print until December 1st, and will not be sold through my publisher until then. But somehow it is for sale on Amazon. I have received a few copies and so far I am very happy. The book itself is a great quality. The best part of POD though...I found a glaring typo in the text. (A formatting error that was fixed on the print galley but somehow reverted back). I emailed my publisher the minute I saw it and she right away fixed it and re-uploaded to the printer. Mistake fixed. With any other print publisher, that would probably not be able to be fixed.

As far as marketing goes, I do most of it myself. My publisher sends the book to at least a dozen reviewers, but that is really all they can do. But these days, big time authors with big time NY publishing houses, they too have to get out there and promote themselves. I am on Twitter and Facebook. I blog, do online chats and I am on Goodreads. I try to participate in online communities as often as I can. I try to use my time wisely and devote it where I will get the most/best exposure.

Have you tried to go the “traditional” route?
I have and sadly, it just didn't work out. But I will always keep trying!

How many rejections have you experienced?
Far too many to count!!! We're talking hundreds!

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