Monica McKayhan writes adult and young adult fiction and currently has 11 titles in print. The first book in her young adult series, Indigo Summer, was the launch title for Harlequin’s imprint, Kimani TRU. Several of her Kimani TRU books have appeared on the American Library Association’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers for consecutive years and ALA’s 2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. Indigo Summer also received a film option. Tropical Fantasy is her first romance title.
BPM: How did you initially break into the publishing industry? What road did you travel? How do you feel about self-publishing?
MM: I was actually a member of a Toastmasters club learning to speak publicly. I knew that I was very close to breaking into the industry and as such needed to sharpen my public speaking skills. In Toastmasters, I met a man who was personal friends with a National Bestselling author. He told her about me, and connected us. She and I started communicating by email. I started sending her examples of my work, and she loved my writing. At the time I was working on my first novel, As Real As It Gets. And she told me that once I was finished, she wanted me to send it to an editor that she knew at BET Books. After I completed the novel, I sent it to the editor at BET and the rest is history. Although self-publishing is not my route, I believe it is a very strong route. I have a lot of respect for self-published authors, and think that most are successful because they understand the business and understand the grind.
BPM: What is your definition of success? Does money play a part in how you gauge success?
MM: My definition of success is achieving the things that are imbedded in my heart, mind and soul. And I don’t base that on what the industry defines as success. It’s a personal journey, and money isn’t the defining factor. It has to do with the things that I love, like writing and family. I write because I love it and I tell any aspiring authors that if you’re in it for the money, you’re in the wrong business. If someone walks away from a book that I’ve written and their life is better, then that’s success for me. And if my children finally get the things that I’ve taught them over the years, that’s success for me.
BPM: What are you most thankful for right now, today?
MM: Right now, I’m most thankful for wisdom. I’m finally in a place where I know exactly what I want and where I want to be in life and my writing career. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and I finally have a game plan.
BPM: What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author?
MM: After writing mainstream fiction, young adult fiction and now romance – I realize that I was much more passionate in the beginning. I realize that I have to write the things that are most gratifying to me and that it’s imperative that it reflects in my writing. Writing is a journey and a learning experience, and there should be growth. I’ve grown up, and I know what I must write. I have to maintain that same passion that I had when I wrote my first novel because it reflects in my work. I also know that it’s imperative that authors educate themselves on the business side of the industry, and education is lifelong.
BPM: Introduce us to your book and the main characters. Do you have any favorites?
MM: Tropical Fantasy is a romance novel about Sasha Winters and Vance Sullivan who meet at a wedding in the Bahamas. Sasha is her sister’s maid of honor, and Vince is the very handsome best man. Sasha’s a workaholic who has been hurt by love in the past, and has put up a shield against anything love related. Vince is determined to break through her hard exterior, and does. You can find Tropical Fantasy in paperback, on Kindle and Nook.
BPM: What compelled or inspired you to write this book? Why now? Ever experience writers block?
MM: Romance is a new genre for me. Tropical Fantasy was the book that sort of challenged me to let go of my inhibitions. After writing mainstream fiction and YA for some time, romance was something that was outside-of-the-box for me. My characters are typically flawed and the story might not always have a happy storyline. However in romance, you have a hero and heroine and the story is supposed to leave the reader with a happy feeling. That has been my greatest challenge. My characters usually experience hardship and have to overcome circumstances, but in romance I have to write from a different perspective. I often experience writers block, and when I do I simply walk away from the project for a little while. Go do something totally different and then come back to it. That works for me. Each author has their own way of conquering writer’s block, but that’s mine.
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