Q&A With Kate Becker
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Q&A With Kate Becker
Today’s author who I am doing a Q&A with is the author of “The Chapel Ghost” which is a collection of ghost stories. As well as being an author, Kate Becker is an editor, a publisher and the owner of The Grande Dame Literary Journal. I’ve said this in past Q&As that when authors multi task that I always found it impressive.
Q: At what point in your life did you realize that your calling was to write, edit, publish and start your own literary journal?
A: I’ve been writing fiction since high school. But fiction took a back seat to business writing when I had to get a job. It was not until the last few years when I became so involved with writers and writing groups that I discovered how much I enjoyed encouraging others to write, learned how to edit, and veered in that direction, and wanted to get my own work published.
The journal emerged as I met writers who shared their experiences of demoralizing defeat of constant rejections from both print and online journals. I had a bit of beginner’s luck with a couple of stories getting published, and then it went flat. As a member of several reading and critique groups, I heard a lot of good stories and thought they deserve a place to be considered for publication. Little did I know what a niche market it would be.
Grande Dame Literary has just had its one year anniversary.
Q: How do you juggle writing, editing, publishing and having your own literary journal?
A: Juggling is the key word. I am very goal oriented and lay out each week with what needs to be accomplished and set deadlines. I write my own material when the muse hits, which is generally early in the day. There are two parts to my editing work. I divvy my professional editing (developmental, line, and editorial critique) with the volunteer editing that comes as being the owner of Grande Dame. I also have a very savvy team working with me on the volunteer editing, which helps immensely with the number of submissions we receive. I also work as a grant writer in my spare time.
I love to write and it seldom feels like work, even when I am getting paid.
Q: What advice do you give to anyone wanting to go into publishing and editing?
A: The publishing industry has had a transition over the last ten to fifteen years with a multitude of choices on how one can publish. From working with writers, I have learned the reasons for choosing one form of publication over another vary considerably.
My first two books, which are short story collections, The Chapel Ghost being one, were self-published. Short stories, my favorite form of writing, I was told, are very difficult to publish traditionally as a new author. I saved myself the frustration and looked into hybrid presses and self-publishing. Self won.
For the novels, I would like to find an agent. The game plan is to submit to ten agents and to ten small presses. If nothing comes of it, I will self-publish. It is a different journey and plan for each writer and each book.
Set goals and have a plan B. Have a plan C as well. There’s a lot of competition out there, and if you want to get published, you have to be flexible to avoid being frustrated.
As far as editing goes, I believe it is about encouraging a writer to push themselves to discover their voice and write to the best of their ability. It is about looking for what works and what does not work in someone else’s writing. Take some courses in editing on how to give constructive feedback.
I approach every story as being a good story; it is the structure of either the story line or the character arc, or the flow that is holding it back.
Choose the type of editing you want to do. For example, if editing in a genre, read that genre, and understand the nuances. It will make you much more effective as an editor. I specialize in short stories and will edit up to 10K words, but never would I attempt to edit a novel.
Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If so can you spoil a little bit about it?
A: Happy to share. I have one completed novel that is going out to agents as we speak. It’s a ‘coming into one’s own’ trope. In 1989 New York, at a time when women were grappling with breaking out of traditional molds, Steffi, a young bride, who comes from a family where women did not work outside the home, meets an illustrious French woman who owns a patisserie. After spending time in the patisserie on New York City’s lower east side, Steffi is encouraged to become a baker. A French baker. She risks it all with a trip to Paris. Can she stay and live up to the challenges she encounters or will she admit defeat and return to NYC?
My second novel was just completed during NaNoWriMo. Rough and raw are the only description so far. But somewhere in the mishmash of words awaiting disentanglement, it will be a series of cozy mysteries with a heavy dollop of romance.