Friday, June 22, 2018

0 SM Koz, author of LOVE ME, LOVE ME NOT, on experiencing the benefits of a detailed synopsis

We're thrilled to have SM Koz stop by to give us the scoop on her novel, LOVE ME, LOVE ME NOT.

What was your inspiration for writing LOVE ME, LOVE ME NOT?

My husband and I are foster parents and we’ve met some incredible children and adolescents while we’ve been doing it. Hearing their stories and seeing what they’ve gone through is heartbreaking, and I wanted to give others a glimpse into this world. With how busy we all are, it can be easy to get caught up in our own lives and our own challenges. We often forget others are struggling as much, if not more, than us.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The hardest scene for me to write was when the Campbells make an assumption about Hailey (due to her background), which causes all the trust she had developed for them to evaporate in a heartbeat. This was difficult because my husband and I found ourselves in a similar situation. It was painful to see all the positive strides the child had made with us disappear because of our mistake. In case it wasn’t clear—foster care is hard. Really hard!

As far as what I’m most proud of, I think it’s less a certain scene and more the emotional component of all the scenes. For me, the narrative and dialogue come fairly easily; it’s injecting emotion into the scene and characters that is a struggle. I often find my first attempt at a chapter focuses on what the characters are doing and saying. Then, I go back and add emotion. While the word count for this second pass is generally only a third of what I initially wrote, the time commitment is usually twice as much. Because it’s so much more challenging, I feel a sense of pride (and relief!) when it all comes together.

How long did you work on LOVE ME, LOVE ME NOT?

I completed my first draft in about four weeks, which is fairly typical for my contemporary romances. Since I also work as a freelance medical writer, I like to plan ahead and give myself a month off of my nine-to-five job to write my novels. Knowing my free time is limited has been a great motivator for me to write quickly! Of course, there were many revisions after that first draft. Overall, I think my editor and I went back and forth for about a year until we were both happy!

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

It took me years to become traditionally published. I started with a YA contemporary romance (titled Love, Lies, and Maurice) that will never see the light of day because it is horrible, but it gave me the confidence I needed to know I could write a full-length novel. I then wrote two Hunger Games fanfiction stories, which were well-received online and gave me the confidence I needed to put my work out there for others to read. After that, I wrote two self-published YA novels, one contemporary romance and the other a light sci-fi. And then, finally, after six years, I found a publisher for my next book—Love Me, Love Me Not!

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

My AHA! moment came with my current work-in-progress. I’m not much of an outliner as I’ve always preferred to have a starting point and an ending point, then wait to see where my characters take me. But, for my current project, my editor asked for a synopsis prior to starting the novel, which I had never done before. It took us a couple of weeks to come to an agreement on the finer points of the plot, but it was well worth the time. I’ve never had a first draft feel so polished before, and I have a feeling this manuscript will progress along the publishing timeline much quicker than Love Me, Love Me Not. From now on, I’ll start every project with a detailed synopsis!

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I am such a boring writer. I need silence, so I always write at home, either in bed, on the couch, or at my desk. No music. No TV. No children running around. This also makes it challenging as sometimes I’ll want to get one chapter in on a weekend, but our house is always a zoo then! My husband is great, though, and he’ll usually offer to take the kids to the park for a couple of hours so I can get my writing done.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on another YA contemporary romance. This one takes place at an elite military boarding school in the mountains of Virginia and focuses on Logan Evans, an antisocial delinquent who was sent to the school to be reformed, and Paige Durant, an uptight, strictly-by-the-rules student officer. The two of them are partnered in the peer mentor program, and it doesn’t take long for the sparks to fly!


Love Me, Love Me Not
by SM Koz
Swoon Reads
Released 6/19/2018

When Hailey Brown is removed from her home and put into foster care, all she wants is a safe, comfortable place where she can finish school and move on with her life. It’s not easy adjusting to a new school and a new life, but Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and their teenage son, Brad, welcome Hailey with open arms.

As Hailey begins to adjust to her new life, she and Brad grow closer. For the first time, Hailey feels like she might have a real shot at a future. Soon, however, Hailey realizes her relationship with Brad has crossed the line from friendship into something more. But being with Brad would mean giving up the perfect life that Hailey has waited so long to have.

Can Hailey and Brad resist the feelings that are developing between them―or will they risk it all to be together?

Purchase Love Me, Love Me Not at Amazon
Purchase Love Me, Love Me Not at IndieBound
View Love Me, Love Me Not on Goodreads


SM KOZ is a medical writer from North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and numerous pets. She has a BS in Biology from Duke University and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, photographing nature and her family, gardening, travelling, and attempting, usually unsuccessfully, to decorate birthday cakes. Love Me, Love Me Not is her first traditionally published novel.


Have you had a chance to read LOVE ME, LOVE ME NOT yet? Have you used situations from your own life in your novels? Do you find working from a detailed synopsis helps you write a quicker, more polished draft? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Charlotte, Anisaa, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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