Kaye Dacus is the author of contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. She loves action movies and British costume dramas; and when she’s not writing, she enjoys knitting scarves and “lap blankets” (she’s a master of the straight-line knit and purl stitches!). Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.
Kaye, I’m so bummed that I haven’t had an opportunity to meet you at an ACFW writer’s conference. Tell us about your experience with conferences in general and please share any tips for writers thinking about attending one for the first time.
Conferences are a great way to not only connect with other writers, but to start networking with industry professionals. I actually knew my agent and editors for several years before they ever saw any of my writing, just from seeing them at conferences every year. The biggest tip I can give for anyone attending a conference the first time is to remember—conferences (especially large ones like ACFW) are overwhelming, from the number of people to the number of classes to the amount of information flooding your brain. Get plenty of rest beforehand and carve some time out of the conference schedule to get alone and recharge.
I read your book, Stand-In Groom, and absolutely loved it! Without giving too much away, you can tell us about the story and where the idea came from?
As many people have probably guessed, the inspiration for Stand-In Groom came to me after watching the movie The Wedding Planner. I wasn’t happy with the way that the romance in that story revolved around the breakup of an engagement. As a writer, most of my ideas come from asking “what if” questions. What if a wedding planner thought she was falling in love with the groom of the biggest wedding she’s ever planned . . . but then he turned out not to be the groom? And the story grew from there.
Of the five books that you’ve written, including Menu for Romance and A Case for Love, which is your favorite or was the most fun to write?
That’s like asking a mother which child’s her favorite! Each is special to me in its own way. Stand-In Groom is special because when I first started writing it, after completing three other manuscripts, I knew beyond a doubt it would be the one that would get published—it was also my master’s thesis, helping me complete a life-long dream of graduate school. Menu for Romance has a lot of me in it, in the character of Meredith, and Major O’Hara is one of my favorite heroes I’ve ever written. For A Case for Love, I got to do some of the most fun research I’ve ever done—I got to go down to the local CBS affiliate here in Nashville and shadow Merryl Rose, the host of “Talk of the Town”, the program on which Alaine’s show in the book is based. Ransome’s Honor was really one of those “books of the heart”—something I wrote when all of the industry professionals were saying historicals were dead and there was no place for Regency-set books in the CBA—and not only does it contain my other favorite hero, it also contains one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written—the bad guy, Sir Drake. And then there’s Ransome’s Crossing, due out in June. I had to stretch and challenge my research and writing skills in writing that book—and it’s probably one of my favorite endings I’ve ever written.
Who are your favorite authors?
I’ve had many favorites over the years. If I had to go with the authors whose books I’ve read over and over and over, I’d have to say Willo Davis Roberts, Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, C. S. Forester, Rosamund duJardin, J. K. Rowling, Jude Deveraux, and Julie Garwood.
As a freelance editor and copywriter, what are some of the most common writing mistakes you’ve seen?
The number-one, most common mistake is the misuse (or absence) of commas. (I explained the general rules for comma usage here: http://kayedacus.com/2007/05/31/manuscript-101-comma-wherefore-art-thou/). Another is authors who misuse apostrophes—using them to make a word plural or not using it in the proper place in a plural-possessive (http://kayedacus.com/2007/06/04/manuscript-101-the-apostrophes-dilemma/). Passive language and not enough of the author’s unique voice/style are other problems I tend to comment on, but only if the publisher asks me to include a content edit.
What would you say is the hardest part of being a writer?
Trying to explain to people what I “do” for hours on end when I only have a few hundred words to show as “progress” for my working hours. Also, those first few days after I turn in a manuscript to my editor—worrying that it’s not good enough and that the editor won’t like it and they’re going to tell me I have to completely rewrite the whole thing. But those are minor compared to the joy I get whenever I complete a story or when one of my books comes out.