Kelly Cozzone was born in New Martinsville, WV. She spent 20 years in West Virginia before moving to Austin, Texas. After spending 15 years in Myrtle Beach, SC, she finally made it back to her adopted hometown of Austin, TX.
When Kelly isn’t writing the mystery stories she loves, she is following her beloved Texas Longhorns. An avid football fan, she spends her fall months rooting on her favorite teams.
In addition to being an author, Kelly writes for Examiner.com and shares her thoughts and stories that strike a chord in her on her blog.
Kelly has been happily married to her husband for 20 years and has three children who are her life.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
I know this is going to sound funny but I can’t write unless my house is at least straightened up. If I ignore it, I can hear it calling to me. I try to write at night as much as possible. The house is quiet then and I can focus on what I’m doing without a bunch of interruptions.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
My novels are only one part of my writing career as I’m also a web content writer so when I’m stuck with writer’s block I usually just shift my focus to another project I’m working on. I’m writing 3 books at one time so generally if I’m stuck on one book, I can always work on one of the other 2.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. Rejection is a part of the game. Writing is subjective and not everyone is going to like it. Don’t swell on it, just keep writing.
What are your current/future projects?
I’m currently writing Paradise Lost which is the sequel to Tropical Dreams. I’m also working on a 2 additional books, one is a new romantic thriller and the other is a book about marriage.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I’ve always loved telling stories. I have an active imagination so writing fiction was just the natural progression.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
I think independent authors are here to stay and will only get more popular as social media allows them to get their name out to a wider audience.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I am a self-published author. Once I had the book finished, the process was actually easy. I didn’t have any problems getting my book in print and on Kindle.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
I have made some amazing friendships with other authors. Those friendships are ones that will last a lifetime. I belong to an incredible group of women authors who support each other personally as well as professionally. Together we work to make all of us successful. I also speak to schools in my area. I work with the teachers and speak to their classrooms on writing, rejection, etc. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to be able to watch as kids grow in their own writings.
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?
Utilizing social media platforms has been the most successful marketing tool I’ve had to date. I also participate in a large number of author events both in person as well as online. It’s a great way to be seen by fans of your genre as well as interacting with them.
If you are a self-published author, which platform do you prefer? (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Author House, or something not mentioned), and why?
I currently use Amazon and see no reason to change right now. Through Amazon I have my books in both print as well as Kindle format. It’s also available at all major online retailers, (Barnes & Noble, Books A Million), libraries, Amazon as well as internationally.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
I write romantic murder mysteries. It’s the genre I love reading and there’s just something about watching the 2 main characters fall in love at a time when they are facing danger and intrigue.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
I always carry a notebook and pen with me. In those moments, I grab my trusty tools of the trade and write them down. I have those notebooks stashed everywhere. You never know when inspiration will hit.
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?
There are guidelines for specific genre’s that you have to hit but those are just that guidelines. I write until the story is told. When its finished, it’s finished.
How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
The more I write, the better writer I become. I have a wonderful support group that isn’t afraid to offer constructive criticism that I never fail to think about. I don’t know how much my writing has helped others but I’d like to think that at the very least, I offer them a time of happiness as they got lost in my story.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
The title, cover and blurb are extremely important. The title and cover are the first things a reader sees and if it grabs them enough to pick it up, you’ve won the first battle. The back cover blurb is vital to the process. It’s where you either hook them in or they put it back and walk away. For myself, I’ve never even looked at page numbers when I’m buying a book.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
The only reviews that I think are important are the ones written by the actual fans of the genre. The internet has made it incredibly easy for people who have a problem with a particular author or genre to be a bully. So the reviews written by those types of people, and they are very easy to recognize, I ignore completely.
What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?
I personally do not do review swaps or pay for reviews. Regardless of how hard someone tries in those instances to be unbiased it’s difficult to get a true read of what they actually thought of the book. Those other reviews that don’t seem right for the book, I ignore. If the review trashes a book or the author or the genre, that tells me that the person is doing nothing more than lashing out. It’s bullying at its best. When I read a negative review, the first thing I ask myself is would the reviewer say this to the authors face. If the answer is no, I pay it absolutely no attention!
Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?
I personally haven’t had this happen to me but know other authors who have had to deal with it. I think there will always be those types of people who feel better about themselves when they are knocking someone else down. Hiding behind the anonymity of the internet increases their ability to be nasty and rude. The more people in general understand this and give less weight to those reviews, actions the less impact they will have.
With self publishing being so easy these days, do you believe there is an over abundance of books out there and how do you sort through all the hype or copycats?
The world is big enough for every book. If an author has a story to tell, they should be able to tell it. As an avid reader, I don’t think it’s possible to have an “over abundance of books.”
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
Failing to live up to my fans expectations on future books.
What is the intended audience for you book?
My audience is adult women. There are minor sex scenes so my writing isn’t appropriate for teens or kids.
Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?
I wrote Tropical Dreams when I lived in Murrells Inlet, SC which is just south of Myrtle Beach, SC. A lot of the places mentioned in the book are actual places, streets, etc. I loved being able to read the finished book and know I’ve been to the places mentioned.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
They shouldn’t reject a book because it’s by a first time or indie author. Some of the best books I’ve read were by indie authors. Just because a book isn’t represented by the big publishing houses doesn’t mean it isn’t any good.
Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?
It’s absolutely easier with social media. It allows the reader to connect with their favorite authors in a way that’s never before been done. I utilize Facebook and Twitter as my main social media hubs however I’m also on Google +, Linked’in.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I actually try not to read reviews though occasionally one will catch my attention. The only ones I look to read are when someone takes the time to let me know they left me a review. I will respect that they took the time to leave a review by reading it. If a positive review is left and it’s been done by a fan, I will respond to it even if it is just a simple “thank you for taking the time to review my book.” Again, I ignore the bad reviews unless it’s written in the manner of constructive criticism.
On dealing with bad reviews, my advise is to ignore them. Writing like art is subjective. Some people will love it and some will hate it. A bad review doesn’t mean the book isn’t any good. It means that one person didn’t like it. Rejection and bad reviews are a part of the process. A thick skin is an absolute must.
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
My favorite events to attend are the Facebook Author events. This gives us the authors a chance to interact with the fans on a more personal level. Yes, it’s not face to face but we aren’t as rushed and can actually spend time talking to our fans.
What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)
For me, the hardest thing to write is the filler pages. Not every scene can be an action, love, etc scene, there have to be those in between moments.
What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
I would love to write a paranormal or sci-fi book but until I come up with an idea that hasn’t already been done, I’ll stick to my genre.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
While my characters are completely made up, I did use character traits, mannerisms, etc from people I know in real life. I didn’t realize it until Tropical Dreams was finished how much my main male character reflected my husband. A friend of mine who read the book called me and asked if my husband knew I’d based my main character on him. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized what I’d done.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
The most important tools a writer needs are more mental than physical. The writer has to be able to deal with the mental aspect of writing. It isn’t easy to hear criticism, bad reviews, those who “could have written it better”, etc. It can be so easy to let those types of things slow the creative process or stop it all together. Being able to block that out and keep writing is essential.
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?
I grew up an avid reader and every book I read enthralled me. I knew that books helped me through some of the hardest times in my life. I wanted to be able to do that for someone else.
What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?
There is nothing better than the feel of a book in your hands. That being said, I’m a sucker for e-books. When a new release comes out I don’t have to run out to the store and buy it. If I’ve discovered a new author, it’s much easier to find all of their books online then to browse thought bookstores (but oh how I love bookstores). Amazon’s one click gets me in trouble quite a bit.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
Writing is my career. I love what I do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?
The most challenging part for me was believing that I had a great story to tell. Self-confidence in my ability to write took quite a while to develop.
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?
I do the main proofread and edit. I have an editor that handles the final edit and beta readers to help make sure the story flows.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
The advantage of self publishing is that the author has more control. However to be a self-publishing author, you have to be able to self-promote. Promotion is vitally important when you are the one responsible.
Do you have a subject/genre you would never write about, why?
If I had a story to tell, I think I’d write it regardless of genre. Though I haven’t branched out into other genre’s yet, that doesn’t mean I won’t.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
My love of writing motivates me. I get up in the morning excited to get to work and go to bed each night already thinking about what I’ll write the next day. I’m a people watcher so I get a lot of inspiration by watching the way other people move, behave, and react.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
So far I’ve designed my own covers but I have a slight advantage. My daughter is a creative designer so I have help when I get stuck.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
My favorite part of the writing process is watching as a simple idea evolves into a story. Seeing the finished product is still quite a thrill. The least favorite part is editing. There are times when you know a scene is great but it doesn’t fit. Editing it out is almost like cutting off a part of you.