From the moment I discovered Design Chic I felt an instant affinity with Beth & Kristy, the mother/daughter duo behind the blog's gorgeous images, smart commentary and warm voice. Over the years we have become friends, and it is with such great pleasure that I share with all of you Kristy Woodson Harvey's debut novel, Dear Carolina.
In her story about mothers, daughters, families and love, Kristy brings a gracious Southern touch to universalhopes and fears, and brings to life a cast of characters that will be with us for a long time. Already, I am hoping for a sequel, and musing on who might play each character in a movie ... because someone in Hollywood needs to snatch this story up now!
In this Style Maniac interview, Kristy shares her long road to getting published , what it's like to work with your mom, tips on finding an agent and her favorite places to write. Read to the end, where you'll find info on entering her $1000 Shop Design Chic Giveaway (ends 5/10/15) and then stop back on Sunday for a special Mother's Day Dear Carolina signed book giveaway here on Style Maniac.
DOREEN CREEDE/ STYLE MANIAC: What prompted you to write Dear Carolina?
KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY: I randomly decided to write a novel. Then I wrote another. Then I wrote another! That third one was the first one I really pursued, and I signed with an agent for it. But, in the meantime, I had written Dear Carolina, and it won a writing contest that my now-editor was a final judge for. But I had this moment, right after my son was born, where I couldn't imagine how strong and brave and selfless a woman would have to be to give away this person that she loved so much. And the idea came to me in that moment!
You write the popular blog Design Chic with your mom, and your novel centers around a mother and daughter. Any correlation?
None of the mother/daughter relationships in this book parallel my relationship with my mom, but I think I've always found that dynamic very intriguing.
What's the best thing about working with your mom?
Since we live a few hours apart the blog really keeps up connected.
What's the hardest thing about working with family?
We don't take it too seriously or really think of it as "work," so, so far, so good! We always said when it wasn't fun anymore we wouldn't do it anymore, but, five years later, we're still loving it!
Did the success of Design Chic help in attracting a publisher?
Honestly, I don't think so. For non-fiction, I think a successful blog is almost mandatory, but they told me over and over again that, for fiction, all they cared about is the writing. In my heart, I think it gave me an edge. But who knows!
Being a blogger has helped with promotion. Really, truly, my blog friends have been so sweet and supportive. I don't know what people do when they don't have friends in high places!
As both Design Chic and Dear Carolina feature beautiful living spaces, I imagine your own office is very special. What does it look like? How do your surroundings help put you in the mood to write?
This is my desk at the beach, in the corner of our bedroom. The sun streams in a bay window and it has the most beautiful water view. It's a lovely place to write, but, I'll be totally honest: I can write anywhere. I always have been able to, since I was young. Quiet, noisy, crowded, alone ... it doesn't matter! I love getting the words on the page and I do that anywhere and any time I can!
Any advice for struggling writers?
You have to be so absurdly patient and you have to keep believing it's going to happen. But, at the same time, sometimes when it isn't happening it's because you aren't ready yet. Keep working on your craft. Get feedback from qualified people wherever you can. Enter writing contests with critiques. But always stay true to yourself too. It's all a balancing act and it can take forever, but, I think the ones who keep their heads down and stick it out make it in the end!
Any tips on getting an agent?
There was no magic to finding my agent. I had no connections, didn't know anyone in publishing. I just had a good query letter and worked hard on each letter. Make sure it's personal and that you know the reason why you want that agent and tell them so. I had never been to a writing conference before I got my book deal, but I go them now and they are invaluable. Get out there and meet people! I say it's about being at the right place at the right time, but you have to be in a lot of places sometimes!
What's the best thing so far about publishing your first novel?
The relationships I've built with readers. I didn't expect people to connect with this novel on such a deep level or reach out to me and share this book in such an amazing way. There's truly nothing better!
Enter the $1,000 Shop Design Chic Shopping Spree: To celebrate the launch of her novel, Kristy is offering a $1,000 Shop Design Chic Shopping Spree to one lucky winner. To enter: Send proof of purchase of Dear Carolina (photos are fine!) to readdearcarolina@gmail by May 10, 2015. Every book = extra entry. Book buyers also receive a free e-copy of the Dear Carolina Companion Cookbook, full of favorite Southern recipes from renowned bloggers and family members, and Dear Carolina printable quotes just for entering.
NEXT POST: Win a signed copy of Dear Carolina in a special Style Maniac Giveaway.
"Use the good china for breakfast."