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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Author Interview: K. Dawn Byrd

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome K. Dawn Byrd whose latest book Queen of Hearts was released the first of this month by Desert Breeze Publishing. So far, this book has been her favorite of the four she's written.

"I love the WWII era and I really like my heroine, a reporter turned spy who's lousy at love," she explained.

I asked her to share a little bit about the book.

Daphne Dean is proud to be serving her country stateside during WWII as a reporter and an Office of Strategic Services operative. When the photograph she takes of the crowd at a murder scene places her on the mob's hit list, she's forced into hiding in a vacant mental asylum in the middle of nowhere with terrifying secrets of its own.

Daphne believed herself to still be in love with her ex-fiancée, Kenneth, until she spends several days locked away in the asylum with Vito, the mob boss' son. Can she put the terrifying events that occurred there behind her and allow herself to pursue a relationship with Vito? Or, will she return to Kenneth who has turned his back on his country by becoming a draft dodger and a black market racketeer? One thing's for sure, it won't matter if she can't escape the mental institution alive.

Dawn told me she's always been a reader with a very active imagination. She would see something and begin to think "what if…" At some point, she decided to start writing down the "what if's" and two years ago began writing seriously for publication. In that time, she's studied every book she could find on the craft of writing. As a matter of fact, it's something she would recommend to any new writer just starting out.

"Buy every book you can find on writing and study, study, and then study some more," she said. "Once you've picked a genre to write, read as many books as you can in that genre in order to see how other authors do it. Read bestsellers and ask yourself how they became best sellers."

Sometimes when she's not sure about where she's going next in a story, she'll walk on her treadmill in order to clear her head, but other times she needs to step back from the story and will take a few days off from writing. This allows her to distance herself from the story and come back with a fresh perspective.

She feels it's important that authors get in a deep POV so the reader feels like they are actually on the journey with the characters, not merely on the outside looking in.

"Getting into a deep point of view," she told me, "will allow us to connect emotionally with the characters, which is a must for a good book."

In Dawn's writing, she has found that the plot almost always comes first.

"Sometimes I use a story board to plot out my story and sometimes I use a story notebook," she explained. "I plot before I write and come up with an overview of the major scenes. I also use a character worksheet to get to know my characters before I start writing. Even thought I plot, things change…it's exciting when I sit down to write a scene and my characters take on a life of their own and lead me down a road I never intended to travel. ) I was surprised when I had plotted the first novel and knew exactly where I wanted to go, but my characters took on a life of their own and changed their story."

Dawn is currently working through edits on Killing Time, her next release from Desert Breeze Publishing which is scheduled to release in August. It is actually the first adult novel she wrote.

"It's a suspense novel about a strong Christian woman who is wrongly incarcerated, framed for murder, and upon release, finds herself in real danger," she shared.

Even though Killing Time is completely fiction, Dawn told me that the setting is very real.

"I was a counselor for a while at a jail," she told me. "I didn't want to forget what the atmosphere was like, so I placed Killing Time in that setting."

The hardest part about writing Killing Time was the rewrites, she told me.

"I must have rewritten it a dozen times. I'd read another book on the craft or editing and I'd dig it out and revamp it again."

Her writing time is limited, because she works a full-time job, but she can write 1000 to 1200 words an hour. She sets aside two hours every night to write and more time on the weekend. That way, she can complete a novel in a month. She'll always put it aside for a while to distance herself from it before she begins editing.

She shared with me that she writes "wherever it's quiet." Sometimes she writes on her laptop, sometimes on her netbook. But the primary thing is—she has to have total peace and quiet.

"I'd rather be in the living room with my husband, but can't stay because of the TV. We have a room in our home that my husband turned into a library. I sometimes write from there or outside on the swing if it's a pretty day."

When Dawn's not writing, she enjoys taking long walks with her husband and their two dogs, hairless Chinese Cresteds, near a beautiful lake near their house. She also enjoys reading. Currently she's downloading and reading ebooks published through her publishing company.

"Desert Breeze represents many different genres and I know the books they publish are going to be a good read," she explained.

On a personal note, Dawn confessed that she has terrible handwriting.

"It was legible until I went back to college to get my masters degree," she told me. "Now I know why doctors write the way they do."

I asked, "What is your strangest habit?"

Her response was, "My husband threatened to buy me a t-shirt one time that read I eat ketchup with my ketchup. I eat it on things most people wouldn't…like eggs, tuna, crab, shrimp, etc."

She told me that she didn't eat strange things, but confessed that she loves oysters, especially Oysters Rockefeller. And, her favorite pizza? Veggie. You can keep up with Dawn on her blog, .

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