I’m excited to welcome my friend Tonya Kappes, who is making a name for herself before she’s sold her first book (which won’t be long now, I’m sure!).
Anya: Tell us about Tonya Kappes, an industrious writer who will likely be published before long. How long have you been writing, and what are you working on now?
Tonya: First I’d like to thank you for having me here. I love to talk about writing!
I’ve been writing for two years with four complete manuscripts under me. I’ve gotten to the point in my career where the rejections are no longer ‘sorry, but NO.’ They are personal or even recommending me to another agent. So it’s been a very interesting journey to say the least.
Currently I have three full requests out with three different agents. Needless to say, I’ve been a bear to live with *wink*.
I write humorous women’s fiction with quirky heroines who put themselves in crazy situations.
UNTIL….this new novel I am working on. I’ve changed genres. I’m writing a cozy mystery with the same humorous quirky heroine voice I can’t seem to shake. I’m having the most fun with it.
My voice is definitely quirky, fun and humorous.
Anya: Quirky, fun and humorous – my kind of stories! Tell us about your interests and activities in your “real” life!
Tonya: Interest? Activities? You’ve got to be kidding me? Literally KIDding! I have four boys (16,12,12,11 years) who are actively into sports and every single night of the week we have at least one or two practices and then games on the weekend. Plus I work a full time job as a Child Developmental Intervention Therapist.
I’m in two different book clubs. One is with a group of girlfriends and the other is on a local radio station. My girlfriends and I get together every five weeks~we love to talk and eat!
Once a month I join chef Amy Tobin on her weekly radio show, Amy’s Table on Q102 (Cincinnati) where we interview the author.
I try to meet my critique partner, author Renee Vincent, at least once a week. I also talk to my blog partners daily, if not by Skype, then through text or email.
Family time, not only with my family, but my parents and sister’s family is a must in my life.
Anya: Renee is great, isn’t she?
That’s so cool about your radio work – I had no idea! I also had no idea you had twins. What are you — Superwoman?? I’m impressed!
Who are some of your favorite authors, and what are some of your favorite books? (For example, if you could only keep five books, what would they be?)
Tonya: Five? Only five? Carolyn Keene – Nancy Drew, Margaret Mitchell – Gone With the Wind, F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby, Rhonda Byrne – The Secret, and . . . my favorite book of nursery tales.
Anya: I know, five is nearly impossible, isn’t it? Still, you picked some great ones! On the subject of books, which books/authors turned you on to romance?
Tonya: Gosh… originally it was Harlequin because that is what my mom would read and pass around to her girlfriends. (That was over thirty years ago!) Then of course I read Margaret Mitchell, which some say it’s not a romance, but I beg to differ.
Anya: I agree – there are a lot of books I call romances that don’t fit the box called “romance” today.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years? In ten?
Tonya: Published, traveling, workshops, signings, interviews, PUBLISHED! Successful writer who’s writing full time. (If not, winning the lottery so I can pay for college tuitions!)
Anya: I can relate! Your website is getting quite a following. Tell us what’s happening there this month.
Tonya: We do have a nice following (about 400 a day!), but I think it’s due to the nature of the site and how different we are from other sites.
Misa Ramirez, Lee Lopez and I wanted a site for readers and writers to enjoy. Once you join our website (for free!), each month we send you a “Naked Note” where we strip down different writing issues (showing vs. telling, inner motivation vs. outer motivation, etc.) and we give you a little homework.
The second Saturday of each month, we have a free mini-workshop where our members can ask questions or get feedback on their homework for the month. This is all done privately.
Plus we have started doing workshops on Stripping Down The Archetypes To Their Skivvies. I was so tired of just sitting and listening while attending workshops, so ours is very interactive and a ton of fun. We have three booked this year and two for next year. It’s been great meeting new writers and feeling like I am able to give back.
Our new adventure…we’ve been asked to start doing online workshops for Savvyauthors.com. It’s pretty exciting and putting together a month long workshop is keeping me busy.
As for the site, we try to have really good Guest Goddesses where they can strip down their hero. Who doesn’t love to strip down a hero???
Anya: Stripping down heroes? You are such a wild woman, but you make a very good point! You don’t have an Ohio accent – where are you from originally?
Tonya: I actually live in KY over the river, BUT I’m originally from Central Kentucky from a small town south of Lexington~Nicholasville, KY.
I’ve been in Northern Ky since 1993 and haven’t lost my accent a bit. Every day someone asks me where I’m from. My kids get a kick out of it.
Anya: I moved down here in 1993, too – from Chicago. I don’t think I have an accent; at least, I don’t say “Da Bears!”
Back to books – what were some of your favorite books as a child? What books do you read to your kids now?
Tonya: All the Judy Bloom books! Of course I snuck my mom’s Harlequins and snickered at the kissing moments. 😉
I’m a positive person and try to keep that attitude with my kids. Ferdinand the Bull, The Giving Tree, Little Match Girl (when my kids were tiny) . . . er . . . Sports Illustrated, Guinness Book of World Records. My kids read? Who am I kidding!
Anya: What have been some important turning points in your life?
Tonya: Getting an education is extremely important to me and graduating from college was a turning point. Meeting my husband, my soul mate, wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have my degree.
Anya: Sounds like there’s a story there . . .
Tell us about the workshop you presented recently.
Tonya: It’s crucial to know what your hero archetype is before you begin to write. Even knowing all your major character archetypes is important to their dynamics and how it will affect your story. We break down each archetype. We also hit on the heroine and villain archetypes.
We start off with a game where we divide the group up into teams and they have to put different movie stars in the different hero archetypes. It was really interesting because the wonderful author Nina Bruhns and writer Sharon Marie Lightsey had different opinions and it gets everyone talking.
I guess they liked us because they already asked us to come back and they booked an online class!!
Anya: Congratulations! Sounds like you’ve really hit on something!
Who are your hotties (in real life, fiction or TV/movies)?
Tonya: Real life~my husband! He’s a Best Friend hero at the core, but ventures over into the protective part of warrior and charmer!
Movies~I’d have to say Cary Grant! I’m a sucker for that charmer smile!
TV~Ross from “Friends” is a professor I’d love to hug on!
Fiction~MR. DARCY!! Seriously . . . what do I say about him????
Anya: Great choices!
What have been some of the highlights of your writing career?
Tonya: I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t know all the people through my local Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America. They have inspired me to be better and encouraged me when no one else understands.
There I have met so many great authors that I use to read, AND now I’m a part of. I love it.
Meeting my blog partners, Misa Ramirez and Lee Lopez, changed my life. I have worked so hard at networking and getting my name out there before I’m published and they gave me free reign with our blog to do that. I took their idea and ran with it. We are having a blast.
I also took a week long LowCountry RWA writing retreat. It’s an intimate gathering (in a mansion on the beach in Charleston!) of about 20 people where we only worked on the craft. Alex Sokoloff, Diane Pershing, Tracy Montoya were amazing to work with and life long friends. They helped me take my writing to a whole new level.
Anya: Oh, I know some of those people – fun! And I totally agree with you about the Ohio Valley chapter of RWA. It’s the best!
Tell us a couple of little-known facts about yourself.
Tonya: Every day I am in car line to pick up my youngest. It’s over a 1 ½ hour wait. That is my writing time. A couple years ago, I finished my first novel under a tree during football practice.
I’m totally scared of the dark! I still sleep with a night light on.
I’m a proud graduate of The University of Kentucky and I bleed BLUE!
Anya: You wait in the car that long every day?? You must be a lot more patient than I am! Also, you’re not alone – I have to have a night light on, too.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tonya: A veterinarian. BUT one little thing I didn’t know . . . you really do have to put animals to sleep. I could never do that.
Anya: Oh, I agree. That would be VERY hard.
Thanks very much for visiting here today – I hope you’ll come back when you have a “call” story.
Tonya: Thank you, Anya! I loved it. And I hope it’s not long until I can come back with my ‘call’ story.
Anya: I don’t think it will be long at all!
Here’s a teaser about Tonya’s book. Maybe we can get her to share an excerpt with us, too!
Carpe Bead ‘Em
Orphaned at a young age, Hallie Mediate was raised by her (slightly) crazy Great Aunt Grace on the wrong side of the tracks in Cincinnati. Hallie dreamed of escaping her hometown and never looking back. After putting herself through college, landing her dream job in Chicago, and starting a romance with her handsome running partner Bo Pompillio, life is finally exactly as she wants it.
That is, until she’s transferred back to the hometown. Not wanting her past to cross paths with her future, Hallie puts her relationship with Bo on hold.
When she arrives in town, Hallie finds crazy Aunt Grace rummaging through a dumpster looking for the “perfect” welcome home gift for her niece. That’s just the beginning. After that, Aunt Grace stays busy by dying her stolen poodle’s hair pink and leaving the dog on her apartment roof to pee, throwing bricks out the window at passing neighbors, and climbing every flag pole to kiss the ornamental eagle.
Hallie finds some sanity at a local jewelry-making class where she uncovers a hidden talent for beading. When her talent is discovered by a major department store jewelry buyer, Hallie realizes that what she had in Chicago might not have been her dream life after all.
When faced with the choice of moving back to Chicago and Bo or taking a leap of faith to start her own jewelry company (with Aunt Grace in tow), Hallie has to make a decision. Will she let her past and her future collide, or will she or keep searching for the happiness she may already have found?