What goes on inside the writerly mind?
Let’s sit down with one of our Word Weaver Writing Contest 3rd place winners, Heather Kindt, and find out.
If you follow the blog, you know Heather won a Word Weaver writing contest last year, submitting a chapter from her then-unpublished book.
From there, she worked with Moyhill publishing and released Ruby Slips and Poker Chips, one of my favorite stories. Filled with fun characters and interesting observations, it was a joy to see an author take a chance and see it succeed.
Since then, I’ve become a fan of her writing, but that doesn’t mean she gets a free pass. Nobody does. This blog is all about pursuing excellence, striving to become great writers, and having fun along the way.
DAN: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?
HEATHER KINDT: I definitely wrote Cabin 5 for the contest.
I wasn’t going to enter. It’s not my type of writing.
But, one morning after a bad night of sleep…
…I woke up and wrote the story in three hours. It was inspired by a real life event that happened to me when I was a counselor at a camp in New England. No, I didn’t find a bloody finger in my underwear drawer—it was a mouse—and it was alive and stared me down with it’s beady little eyes.
Three hours is really all anyone needs to write a prize winning story…
Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece /completed story?
I don’t really plan out stories. I try. Sometimes I’ll sit down for an afternoon and write down what could happen in the next few chapters, but I want my characters to drive my stories.
With my most recent finished work, The Watcher, I wasn’t sure where it was headed at one point, so I had to outline a bit. When I wrote Ruby Slips and Poker Chips, it kind of had a plot outline already because it followed the storyline of the Wizard of Oz, but of course it has a totally different setting and the way things happen are very different.
My course to publication has been unique because I actually won the July Word Weaver Writing contest last year. I was in Doolin, Ireland when I found out I was a finalist and I didn’t sleep that night (yes, I’m often sleep deprived). I knew if I won the publishing package that came with winning first place, my writing life was going to change. My first book was published.
Did your spouse help you? How?
Tom helped me a bunch on this story. I wrote it all out and had Colton die at the end, but Brittney found a mouse in her drawer (like my real life story). It didn’t really make sense for the other counselors to scare Brittney with a mouse, but kill Colton. They had to REALLY scare her. That’s when Colton’s bloody finger came into the picture thanks to my sick husband.
He’s also my biggest cheerleader always excited for me, and willing to listen to my stories. When I found out I had a publishing contract back in July, he took me out to celebrate at my favorite restaurant.
What is your favorite restaurant?
The Melting Pot! So expensive and so bad for me, but I love it. My favorite cheese is the Alpine Swiss and my favorite chocolate is the Crème Brulee, but they don’t make it anymore L
Melting Pot is awesome. Cheese. Meat. Mmm.
Where do you do your writing?
All over—my bed, the couch, my office (you can view pictures of my super cool office in a previous interview with Dan).
Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?
Right now, my goal is to publish all three books in The Weaver trilogy. My original goal was to have them published by summer 2018, but then I was signed with Parliament House Press for the first book. I am super excited about this opportunity. The publishing house focuses on fantasy and paranormal books. So, now that The Weaver is coming out in 2019. I want it to do very well and then to get The Watcher and The Ender signed on to be published.
What helps you the most when it comes to writing?
Positive feedback. Dan’s critiques have been awesome. I want to know if something doesn’t make sense. But he also gives me tons of praise.
I received the same constructive criticism from my editor at the publishing house. She started off by saying how much she loved the book and at times she forgot she was supposed to edit it
but then told me when things didn’t make sense. I think positive feedback from critique partners, reviewers, and fans keeps all of us motivated to keep writing.
What does writing success look like?
Writing success to me is the ability to keep writing. IF someday I can make a living from my writing, it would be a real dream.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m beta reading for a writer friend. It’s important to connect and help other writers. It’s tough to be an island. With my writing, I need to finish The Ender. When I’m done with that book, I think I might work on another YA paranormal romance I started writing called Dreamers.
We got a taste of Dreamers a few months ago in a contest. It may be your best writing to date.
Thank you. I also want to write another book like Ruby Slips and Poker Chips based off Cinderella and some of my real life experiences.
That sounds interesting. Keep us posted on that one!
How important is setting in your writing?
Many times I pick significant places in my life to set my stories. The Weaver is set at the college I attended in Massachusetts. It is also set in two different times. The Revolutionary War was an important time in our country’s history and is the alternate setting of the story. Cabin 5 takes place at the camp I worked at in New Hampshire. When I wrote Ruby Slips and Poker Chips, I had to research a lot of the places along Route 66 to make sure I was as accurate as possible in describing them in the book.
There are a lot of writing contests out there. What drew you to this one?
It was all Dan and his charisma
Have you ever entered a writing contest before?
Did you know the piece you submitted was special?
I know my writing is getting better. Dan has critiqued a lot of my work and given me great feedback. I add more emotion to my writing now and leave out phrases like “Brittney knew.” Like I said above, he’s very honest, but also tells you what he likes about your writing. That can be very encouraging. I also realized from my other editor that I use the word “so” a ton!
The setting of this story is special to me. It’s a place I spent three summers in my later teens, early twenties. I stayed in cabin five for two of those summers.
How did you rebel as a teenager?
I didn’t really rebel as a teenager. In fact, I went to a frat house party with some friends in college and walked around with a full can of beer so I could appear cool. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I rebelled. Kind of. I met a guy on-line and drove eight hours to Pennsylvania to meet him. I told my parents I was in Massachusetts sleeping over a friend’s house. Good thing something serious didn’t happen.
Where is the most memorable place you ever traveled to?
Last summer, I was able to take a dream vacation with my family. We went to Paris, Venice, Rome, and Ireland. My favorite place was Paris because our window looked out at the Eiffel Tower.
But, I think the most memorable was Venice. It is otherworldly. The only way to get around is by foot or by boat. We loved getting lost on the narrow streets and finding pop-up art galleries. I’d love to go back someday.
Heather Kindt grew up in Derry, New Hampshire, but now resides in the mountains of Colorado with her husband and two children. She loves writing YA fantasy and humorous fiction. Her debut novel, Ruby Slips and Poker Chips, won the Dan Alatorre Word Weaver Writing Contest.
To learn more about her and the great things that are coming in her writing world, visit her website at http://heatherkindt.com.