Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's Fresh with Kelly McClymer's Competition's a Witch

Prudence Stewart is finally starting to get her witch on. It's been a month since her parents decided to give their magic-deficient daughter a crash course in enchantment by enrolling her in Agatha's Day School for Witches. And sure, Pru's still stuck in Magic for Dummies -- but at least she made the cheerleading squad.

Now Prudence has a bigger problem...she walks, talks, and cheers like a mortal. And she's deathly afraid the other witches will catch on. So she vows to give up her old earthly ways: no cell phone, no car, and above all, no dating mortal boys.

There's just one hitch to the sitch: Angelo, the megacute mortal-next-door. When he and Prudence meet, sparks fly -- no magic necessary. And breaking Angelo's spell turns out to be the hardest trick of all.

Hello Kelly! (I just love your name. *big grin*) Thanks for joining us at YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Kelly M.: Well, you'd think that would be a simple question, right? Not for me. My very first sale was a short story called "Napping on Jungle Time" and featured a mother overly tired from nursing her daughter through a bad bout of flu and the resultant semi-awake dream that starred Tarzan. It was published by a small press magazine no longer in print called Housewife-Writer Forum, and I made the sale because I wouldn't give up on that story and submitted it *everywhere* until I found someone to publish it.

My first novel sale was for a historical romance THE FAIRY TALE BRIDE for Kensington. I'd written the first book as a stand alone, but my agent at the time jumped on the opportunity to pitch it as a series for a new line that was starting up, and I ended up furiously writing six synopses in two days. She sold three of those books initially, and I went on to publish all seven of the books in that series.

My first YA sale was THE SALEM WITCH TRYOUTS to Simon Pulse. I wrote the entire book before sending it to an agent who handled YA (my previous agent was not interested in YA fiction). I felt sure I had a catchy idea, but you never know until you get the bite, so I was nervous. After several rejections, I clicked with a new agent, and she submitted the book several places, got two publishers interested and...I ended up with Michelle Nagler at Simon Pulse for my lovely and talented editor for four YA books: GETTING TO THIRD DATE; and the Salem witch trilogy, of which COMPETITION'S A WITCH is the second installment.

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Kelly M.: Ever since I was a child, I balked at a routine. This has made writing difficult, to say the least :-) There have been times when I tied myself to a chair with my bathrobe belt to finish a book by deadline. I believe in creativity 'jumpers' to get me past the fear that *this time* I won't be able to write the book I want to write (I'm kind of hard on myself :-) There have been times when I wrote fifty pages in one setting because everything was clicking.

Whenever I find myself procrastinating too badly, I pick up a writing book and start reading. Pretty soon, the itch to apply the advice hits, and I start writing again. My last purchase of a writing book was WRITING OPEN THE MIND (I was visiting Half Moon Bay, California, on impulse--which has three bookstores!--and saw it sitting there; despite a bulging suitcase, i couldn't resist).

Hey Kelly, our procrastinating routines are a little similar! :) Please tell us about your latest novel COMPETITION'S A WITCH and what we can expect from your characters.

Kelly M.: COMPETITION'S A WITCH, just out in April, is the next installment of my Salem witch series. Pru Stewart may have made the cheerleading team, but she's still stuck in remedial classes and determined to study her way into regular magic classes, no matter how opposed to the idea her headmistress, Agatha, is. She thinks she knows the solution: ditch every mortal habit she's learned in sixteen years of living among mortals. The only glitch is the cute -- mortal -- boy who lives next door.

Sounds great! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Kelly: The final book in the trilogy, SHE'S A WITCH GIRL, comes out in August. Pru learns what being a witch really means -- and has to decide if that's what she really wants.

Currently, I'm finishing up MUST LOVE BLACK, a gothic look at a semi-goth girl who takes a job as a nanny at a Maine spa-psychic retreat and finds her worldview challenged from the most unlikely sources.

Very cool! Thanks again for sharing with us, Kelly! I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Kelly M.: Oh, yes. Like I said, I try lots of things to jumpstart myself past the fear of success/failure and get into the deeply creative mode. WRITING OPEN THE MIND has the most fantastic exercises. One of these I'm using to finish up MUST LOVE BLACK: Tarot cards. I shuffle the deck, deal out one card. That tells me what the scene focus is. Then I deal out five more cards and use them to tell the scene in vivid detail. You don't need to understand Tarot card meanings (I don't), you just need to look at the pictures and the card title. I've gotten the most amazing insights from doing this, and it really is helping me get past the difficult days of writing this book, which is not coming easily for some reason.

So. The tip isn't really to try Tarot cards, but to try *something* that will reach down into the subconcious and get past all the procrastination and delay tactics to make you excited about your writing every time you sit down to write.

Kelly McClymer has very much enjoyed rediscovering her inner sixteen-year old. She hopes never to lose touch again. Visit her website,

7 fresh comments:

TinaFerraro said...

Hey Kelly M.! Can you believe I've bought TWO copies of COMPETITION'S A WITCH, and there's not one in the house? Both got given away as gifts to girls who loved THE SALEM WITCH TRY-OUTS! Next one I buy, I'm writing my name inside and hiding!

Will I be seeing you in Dallas?

And great interview, Kelly P.!

stephhale said...

I loved The Salem Witch Tryouts so much! I haven't had a chance to get CAW yet, but I will soon. Such a fun series!
Great interview, Kelly's!


Kelly Parra said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Tina and Steph! The series sounds awesome! :) ;)

K said...

Ahh! You guys are great. I'm honored to be here. I read your blog (even sneaking it in when I'm not doing much else but finishing a book).

This was a real pickup after a grueling day of revisions...not to mention a car battery which decided to die and prevent me from taking my son to the dentist. Fun.

I won't be in Dallas, Tina. I'm home this summer and all traveled out. I have grass to pull out of my garden, a house that needs a major "Clean Sweep" and another book on the schedule for revision. I'm planning on SF next year, though, because my daughter and sister live there.


TinaFerraro said...

Hey Kelly M.,

I'll look forward to seeing you in SF, then. (And to Kelly P., as well!)

Best of luck with those revisions, and so glad you read YA FRESH!

Liiss said...

Hi Kelly M,

Im hoping you can respond to my comment on this website. I just finished currently reading She's a Witch Girl and I loved it. I absolutely love all three of the books for the series and own them all.I have read that this was the final book that is going to be in for that series? To be honest with you, yes I can see why that would be the final and last book for the series but I honestly think there should be one more to it. Okay maybe i'm going wanting another one because this is one of my favorite series of books ever. I really would love to see one last book like a final sequel to find out the conclusion of everything in Agatha's and Daniel, and Angelo, and Tara, and what happens to the rest of the team. I would really love to see Pru get somehow with like Daniel for the ending but hey its my opinion but I can base it up there.And I would love to see how Angelo works out in Agathas. There is so much question and I was really sad to hear that this would be the last. I love to see how Maddie and Pru become all after it after the vacation and just see her last year in high school pan out. Hope you can get back to me.


K said...

Hi Lisa,

You ask some really good questions! So far, no more books are scheduled for Pru. I understand why you wish she could have a little more Daniel time, but he's such a free spirit and she's so goal-obsessed, I'm not sure it would work. I think they're better as friends...for now. I'm really curious about how Angelo is going to adjust to everything, too -- but at least he has Pru, who has some great tips for him (like, don't get caught kissing someone while doing unpermitted magic in the lunchroom!).
As for Maddie and Pru -- Pru's not the kind to turn her back on old friends. Distance keeps them apart for now, but who knows what the future holds. They might even go to the same college.
Thank you for making my day with your wonderful questions -- I dipped right back into my Pru-world, which I've been missing since I left it.