STORYTELLHER : Karyn Rae | Carve Your Own Path
Have you ever had a dream, but you felt stifled or discouraged along the way? Three years ago Karyn Rae found herself writing her first romantic suspense novel, The Achilles Heel, after years of dreaming of becoming an author. What she discovered for herself was that the hard part wasn’t in writing the book, but the real challenge came when she opened the door to the publishing world: the need for approval, the requests to change her writing style, and key components of the story itself.
None of it felt right.
After surviving the initial gauntlet of the submission process, Karyn felt determined to take her stories and her voice into her own hands. She’s now published two of her own books, launched Karyn Rae Publishing; a boutique publishing company for Indie Authors, and KRP is already servicing authors who were once in her shoes.
Karyn not only turned her obstacle into an opportunity for herself, but she’s creating opportunities for others along the way. Let her grit and authenticity serve as a reminder for any unlived dreams you need to dust off of your shelves.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER?
I’ve always been a writer (short stories, poetry, school assignments), but it wasn’t until the summer I turned 35 (I’m 38 now) that I decided to write a full-length novel.
WERE YOU EVER AFRAID OF FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION AS A WRITER?
Um, of course! Who isn’t? I do believe fear is necessary for eventual success, though. It’s one of the compelling emotions that helps to create the possibility of passion in the first place. That said, I’ve always been the kind of person who is able to hide my fears. I internalize and mask them. Only a handful of people have ever seen me vulnerable. Even though fear is a necessary component, you have to stay ahead of whatever scares you. Otherwise, fear wins.
WHEN DO YOU FIND THE TIME TO WRITE (ESPECIALLY WHEN YOUR KIDS WERE VERY YOUNG?)
I started my first novel, The Achilles Heel, in the summer of 2012. My kids were 5 and 3. I wrote from 10pm — 2am, almost every night. Being a stay-at-home mom, I had the opportunity to function on little to no sleep. But, looking back now, it seems crazy I even attempted it!
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY ROUTINE CONSIST OF?
I’m not a morning person in the least, but I get up around 5:30am, because everyone is still asleep, and it’s quiet. I love that kind of quiet. It helps me to feel in charge of the day ahead. I pack lunches and get the kids on the bus around 7:15am. The next 6 hours are divided among dishes, laundry, cleaning, texts, emails, social media posts, and finally, writing.
How that gets divided just depends on how bad the laundry that I’ve washed three different times stinks, how high the mountain of dishes is, or how desperately I want to write. Usually, the desperation of writing wins over everything else. The rest of the day is devoted to family duties.
IN WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU FELT THE MOST SUPPORTED BY FAMILY AND FRIENDS AS YOU’VE PURSUED YOUR DREAMS?
My parents have been a huge support system. They’ve helped me financially, as well as emotionally. Before I queried agents with my first book, my mom was my editor. She spent a lot of time on my book. I think this has always been a secret passion of hers, so it was gratifying for her to see something this big come out of her child. I’m speculating, but it’s probably how I would feel.
ALL WRITERS TALK ABOUT HOW REJECTION IS JUST A PART OF THE SUBMISSION PROCESS. DID YOU EVER GET DISCOURAGED AND ALMOST QUIT?
Like fear, rejection is necessary. It makes you a better, stronger, and more well-rounded person. I’ve never thought about quitting; not ever. I have so many stories to tell, I would go insane if I didn’t get them out. That’s not to say that I don’t get discouraged sometimes, because I absolutely do.
“You can throw in the towel, get a bottle of Riverboat Red, and have a Nicholas Sparks movie marathon, because you’ll never be successful if you stop learning.
WHAT OBSTACLE ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF OVERCOMING?
That’s a hard question, because I tend to only look forward. If I had to choose, I would say the evolution of it all. Two books, a publishing company that is on the verge of our first book (a children’s book with full illustrations), a ghostwriting contract, and 20K words into my 3rd romantic-suspense novel. All because I decided to just start.
YOU WERE PICKED UP BY AN AGENT AND THEN PROCEEDED TO WILLINGLY BACK OUT OF THE AGREEMENT. YOU TOOK YOUR WRITING/ PUBLISHING CAREER ‘INTO YOUR OWN HANDS’, AS YOU’VE MENTIONED. DESCRIBE THE EVOLUTION OF THIS PROCESS.
The short version, is that I hired an editor, and she stole my money, never editing my book. In the time when I thought she was making edits, I started to research self-publishing, and the comparisons to traditional publishing. In hindsight, this was a blessing. I sent my manuscript to some agencies, and I got a yes, with terms. The agent wanted me to change some major things. She thought that telling the story from two different points of view would be too confusing for the reader. I knew she was wrong, and it’s actually what readers have told me they like most about the story. So I passed. I hired another editor, then got an offer from a traditional publishing company.
WHAT ARE THE TOP THREE QUALITIES THAT YOU THINK MAKES ANY WORKING MAMA ACHIEVE SUCCESS?
Multitasking, and girlfriends are at the top of my list. The other quality is harder to come by: Don’t be a victim in your own life. Bad stuff happens to everyone, and someone out in the world has it worse than you. We all possess the possibility of greatness, but if you don’t keep trying, you’ll never reach your potential.
YOU HAVE NOW CREATED AND BUILT KARYN RAE PUBLISHING FOR INDIE AUTHORS. WHO IS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT?
Anyone who wants to self-publish. Whether you have a children’s story but no illustrator, a self-help book, a traditional novel, or a memoir, KRP has the ability to help you achieve your greatness.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF RIGHT ABOUT NOW?
Pay more attention in school, take better care of your girlfriends over your boyfriends, and it’s okay to let them see who you really are.
HAVE YOU HAD ANY MENTORS ALONG THE WAY? WHO DO YOU ADMIRE IN YOUR INDUSTRY?
My ninth grade English teacher is still my mentor. It’s so fun to know her as an adult. We recently got together for an afternoon in Dallas, and I hadn’t been in the same room with her in thirteen years. That was definitely worth the wait.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL DAY?
The morning I open my inbox, and I have a email from Reese Witherspoon, telling me how much she enjoyed my latest novel. Until then, every day the writing progresses further into my current project; that day is considered ideal.
YOU’VE GONE FROM WRITER, TO SELF-PUBLISHED, TO CEO OF A PUBLISHING COMPANY. HOW ARE YOU NAVIGATING THESE ROLES IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, WHILE BALANCING ALL OF THE OTHER FACETS OF YOUR LIFE AS A WIFE, MOTHER, ETC.?
I’m not. Believe me when I tell you that NO ONE has it together, not even Gillian Flynn. You aren’t suppose to. Having the perfect kids, husband, clothes, weight, house, or dinner isn’t real. That’s the fear seeping in, trying to tell you that perfection is real and it’s just around the corner. If you only give up a little more of yourself, you’ll find it. It’s bullshit; an illusion. Do the best you can today, and tomorrow, start over again.
IF YOU HAD ONE STORY YOU COULD SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS TO WOMEN ALL AROUND THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Don’t buy into other people’s expectations of your life, and don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do something, especially if that someone is yourself.
Listen to Karyn’s interview here:
I created STORYTELLHER™ because I’m on a mission to connect women through the power of story. I believe we take cues from each other about what we desire and what’s possible in our lives. Contained within this interview series are everyday, yet notable women sharing their stories of turning life’s challenges into their greatest opportunities, while creating success on their own terms.
My mission is to provide a platform for women’s stories who inspire me to be my real self with no apologies, to live in alignment with what matters most to me, and who inspire me to think and act more creatively and with a sense of humor. Look around and you’ll find that these women are everywhere, STORYTELLHER is just giving them a voice.
My dream is that you absorb their stories, and translate them into possibilities for your own life.
Every story matters.
XOXO — Ashley Chandler