Kelly Risser knew at a young age what she wanted to be when she grew up. Unfortunately, Fairytale Princess was not a lucrative career. Leaving the castle and wand behind, she entered the world of creative business writing where she worked in advertising, marketing, and training at various companies. Currently, she works full time as an eLearning Instructional Designer, fitting her creative writing into the evenings and weekends.
She’s often found lamenting, “It’s hard to write when there are so many good books to read!” So, when she’s not immersed in the middle of someone else’s fantasy world, she’s busy creating one of her own. This world is introduced in her first novel, Never Forgotten, and visited further in her second novel, Current Impressions.
Kelly lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two children. They share their home with Clyde the Whoodle and a school of fish.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is on of my creative outlets. If I’m not reading a book, then I’m working on my current work in progress. I love creating a world of my own and bringing characters to life. The whole creative process is so much fun. I’m constantly amazed at the way it works. For instance, in the second draft of Never Forgotten, two new characters were introduced. Even more interesting is that these two characters are major characters, not minor…and they weren’t even in the original version of the story! Those kinds of surprises are what inspire and motivate me. It’s just fun to see where my mind takes me, and often, I think it’s my subconscious mind that’s driving!
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a little in each category – I typically start with an idea, flesh it out through seat of my pants writing. However, when I’m getting toward the end of the book or if I get stuck, then I’ll take the time to make an outline. My outlines are always very high level and extremely flexible. I’ve learned that it’s not a good idea to try and fight where your characters want to go — the writer never wins in those scenarios!
What has helped me the most is to write consistently, a little each day if I can manage it. I work full time, plus I have younger kids, so it’s not always easier or attainable, but I find if I can get into a regular habit, the ideas come quicker and the story unfolds faster.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I tend to daydream about my characters. I see the scenes unfold like a movie in my head, and sometimes, a certain scene won’t leave me alone until I sit down and write it out. I don’t converse with my characters, but I have a very clear picture of what they look like and who they are. I definitely have my favorites, and a few of them are scene hogs, but I like them so much I let them get away with it!
What really puts me in the frame of mind to write is music. It’s not that I even really listen to the songs– I tend to put my iPhone on shuffle — but the music acts as white noise and puts me in the optimal frame of mind for the words to flow.
What advice would you give other writers?
Keep writing! And read! It’s hard to be a good writer if you’re not a reader, too. Find other writers and critique partners. I owe a lot to my writing workshop at Allwriters’ Workplace and Workshop. The other writers there can me excellent feedback, asked intelligent questions, and helped me to polish my story. Whenever I can, I attend a workshop on a regular basis. My writing is better when I do. Don’t be intimidated to get started. Get your words on paper. You can always go back and revise, and I strongly suggest you do! Most writers need to go through their manuscript several times before they consider it ready for others. It’s a sign of a good writer to be disciplined about reviewing your own work.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
While I really do enjoy writing, the real thrill to me is hearing from those who read my books. I like to see that my characters and stories mean something to others, too.
While I was not opposed to self publishing, I really wanted to publish with a traditional publisher. To me, it felt like this validated my work. Someone else besides me believed it was good enough. I’m really glad that I went that route. My publisher, Clean Teen Publishing, is amazingly supportive. The other CTP authors are, too. It’s like a big writing family, and I’m so glad I have them in my life!
My best advice to new authors is get involved in the industry as soon as you can — even as you are writing your book. I was really overwhelmed in the beginning, because everything was new to me. I’m just now starting to feel like I’ve made some great connections, and I have a handle on what I need to do. If you can, attend an author event. I went to UtopYA Con in Nashville this past June. It was a great place to learn and meet other authors.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Like so many industries, it’s ever evolving. But it’s an exciting time for writers and readers. Never before has there been so many options to read. Historically, the publishing houses controlled what was published. If they felt there were too many of a particular story type in the market, they would simply reject the author’s work. Not because it was bad, per se, but because they didn’t think they could market it or get their investment back. I don’t believe in oversaturation. If you love vampire stories, you want to keep finding more vampire stories. Are you ever going to say, “I’m done, thanks. No more vampire stories for me!” No! You’ll keep reading them as long as new stories keep coming out. That’s what I love about the modern book publishing world, and I hope those choices for readers continue to expand.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
young adult, paranormal, romance, fantasy
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print