Please Welcome Tonya Kappes!


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 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!

Tonya is on Facebook, plus she blogs at The Naked Hero and has a fun website, too. You can follow Tonya and The Naked Hero on Twitter.

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?

60 responses »

  1. Thanks for having me Anya! You are my first interview. I do a ton of interviewing, but you are the first for me. It’s fun to hang out with you today. BUT it’s hard to follow the hot men of RT!!!

  2. Now now Keri!! You work way harder than I do. You have to keep up the bod for the belly dancing! That’s harder than anything I do…

    BUT I do admit I’m so crazy about my schedule to a fault. With six people in the family and all going in different directions, my DH and I tag team. I’m so jealous of people who have family to help them out!!

  3. You are Superwoman, Tonya. Not sure how you do it all, but I want to learn! Great interview, and I love all the pictures, too. I’m crossing fingers the “Call” will come soon.

  4. Tonya!!! Love this interview! You are such a great woman and an inspiration to me. I hope you know that. Your writing style and voice are unique and fantastic. Reading your stuff is definitely a joy and such a change of pace for me. I am honored to be your crituique partner!

    You know I am pulling for you! And I KNOW things are going to happen for you. I just know it.

    Can’t wait to see you at Lori Foster’s event and help out with your workshop.

    And for anyone who is interested in the workshop, you will not be disappointed. Tonya will be bringing it! You will walk away with something to take home – something you can use for your own writing. She is just THAT good.

    Tonya, you never fail to entertain. Thanks for sharing your life story with us. Though I knew most of it, it still puts a smile on my face – cause I can here your fun southern draw while I am reading it.

    Have a great weekend dear!

  5. And I’d like to say something as well, if I am permitted…

    Thanks for being on my “team”. ‘Tis nice to know I am loved out there among all those “Daegan Lovers”. hahahah

    And you NEED to get with Renee again soon…she’s got me doing some pretty cool stuff with Mara. *Wink, wink*

  6. Aaah — Breandán Mac Liam! So nice to hear from you!

    Renee – I saw your tweets the other day — how is the horse?

    Hi Heather! Great to see you here!

    Hi Maria, Wendy, Dorothy and Sondra – I’m excited Tonya is getting so much support!

    Keri – I can relate. She makes me feel like a slacker, too!

  7. Tonya, lovely interview. I enjoyed learning more about a favorite online friend. What a nice family shot. You have some handsome guys there.

    I like the sound of the workshop and yah, I also like interactive workshops. I’ve hosted quite a few seminars in my working career and keeping them interesting is always a challenge. But I love doing them.

    I envy you going to a retreat. I would love to do it.

    Anya, thank you for bringing us such a nice interview!

    • Hi Sia! I was hoping we’d get to meet in Nashville, but Orlando isn’t going to happen since I will be there two weeks before….ugh!
      I can’t wait to meet all my online friends. We need our own retreat for sure!!

      • I’m jealous – my daughter lives in Orlando and works at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort. Wish I could come with you!

  8. Great interview, Toyna! It was great to learn more about you 🙂

    You already know how much I love y’all site. It’s so full of information and great guest goddesses. Y’all are the best 🙂

  9. My dream is one of those where you get a log cabin in the woods — but close to a beach — and with all the amenities, just not Facebook or television. But a fast internet hook-up in case I need Google for research.

    • My DH and I we go to a remote cabin down in KY that’s only rented to adults. We love it there. Since discovering it, we are on the search for a cabin in the woods. I love having coffee out on the porch and listening to NOTHINGNESS! To be in nature is so inspiring to me.
      Beach would be good too!

  10. Am I surrounded by greatness, or what! Tonya, loved reading all about you. You’re dynamic, inspirational, and gorgeous to boot…I shouldn’t like you this much. *snort*

    I have one child–two practices and three softball games in one week makes me CUHRAYZEE. *kissing the hem of your clothing* Is it the writing that keeps you sane? It does me. I’d freak if I didn’t have that outlet.

    The book sounds like a must read. I’ll put it on my TBR pile as soon as it’s out. I’m thinking it’s a matter of time, girlfriend. See ya at the Get Together along with my other BFFs. I can hardly wait!

    • Gabriella you are amazing with you book coming out!! I am kissing your hem!!
      Writing does keep me sane. I’d be sitting in a car doing NOTHING a few times a day, just waiting~so why not write!! I think that’s why I write long hand.

  11. Wow what a nice interview! The book is going to be a best seller i know. we are all waiting on the call with you. GO get em girl!!!!

  12. Hi Tonya,

    Great interview–you are going places.

    Love the fact that your writing time is while you are sitting in your car waiting to pick up your kids. Perfect example of a modern day writer!

    • Thanks Mary! Only I need to find a new place in the next couple of weeks. School is out soon and next year they will be able to take the bus to middle school. I’m not good at coffee shops b/c I like to eat, but I will be on the hunt for new places. Let me know if you know any!

  13. Tonya, you and your life story are a great inspiration. Sounds like an amazing, fun real world you live in. Thanks for the synopsis of Carpe Bead ‘Em. Hope to read more about Aunt Grace. I especially loved that she was hunting in the dumpster for a home-warming gift. I enjoyed your thoughts about The Naked Hero and what you mentioned about knowing your characters’ archetypes. Plan to give that a lot more thought. I was also very interested in how you’ve created a writer’s community for yourself. What is a critique partner (sounds great!). Any suggestions on finding one? I’m new to connecting with other writers/writing addicts and I’m loving it!

      • Hi Anya,

        Yes, I have joined RWA, but not my local chapter. Thanks for the suggestion–I’ll look into that.


    • Thanks Jane. One thing with me….I love to pay if forward. I am a big believer in karma. If I see one of my writing friends is blogging somewhere, I stop by and support them the best I can.

      As for writer’s community, I’m pretty good at reaching for the stars and when my DH encouraged me to write a book a few years ago, I started to look for local writing chapters in my area. I joined my local RWA and went to a meeting. There I found people who understood me, the process I was going to and the wonderful advice they gave me was tremendous. I also started to go on my favorite author websites, or site of writers who published book like the ones I write. I started to follow those blogs and got myself a facebook account and started to friend those people. The information off blogs and the writing community is invaluable.
      I started blogging when the original blogger was activley seeking out a guest blogger, and since I’m so shy – NOT!- of course I said I would. Then they continued to ask me back and we started
      A good friend of mine and author Amy Fagley, loves my blog site and asked if I would do a workshop at her RWA chapter in Charleston SC. It was great!

      I also took online classes to meet writers and I went away for a week to a retreat. I go on retreats more than I do conferences. I believe in honing my skills and making my manuscript the best it can be. I love love networking too, but I’d rather spend my money on retreats and good teachers (I guess that’s the teacher coming out in me since I use to teach!).

      My CP is author Renee Vincent. When looking for someone to read your work, it’s like sending your child off to college. A tad bit nervous. But luckily Renee was looking as well and our good mutual friend Becke Martin hooked us up. Renee and I live about 20 minutes from each other and we talked about what we expected from each other. Not only did I want her honest opinion but I was going to give her mine. We send a couple chapters to each other during the week and get together to discuss those chapters.
      I suggest to join your local RWA group and see if they have a program for pairing up CPs. I also belong to an online group and they have a CP program. Once your in your writing community, you will find someone who’s like you and will click too.
      Good luck! Visit! I’d love to see you there.

  14. Tonya, just saying hi. Have followed you on fb and now on your NH blog. You’re an inspiration to me. I get so tired at times, but I figure that if someone with your schedule can write, I can do it, too. I’m definitely interested in what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and I’m very happy to see that you’re workin’ the social networking circuit so beautifully.

    • Mary – I’m so glad you stopped by! I was just thinking I should have you as a guest soon, too.

      Did you hear I met a mutual friend recently? (Franny.) She is sooooo nice! We had a blast!

    • Hi Mary!! I love seeing you here. I don’t know how interesting I am…er…sitting in my pajamas excited to see who the Trump picks…but I can’t wait to meet my peeps (you and a few others) from FB in real life.

      I did figure out where I am going to write once car line is over in two weeks~BASEBALL!! Our games can go up to three hours and today was no exception so I pulled out my notebook and jotted down a few notes that ended up turning into a scene over 2k words! YIPPEE!!

  15. Great interview! I love blog interviews that come across as two people chatting. Tonya, sounds like there’s never a dull moment and kudos to you for carving out some time to write. As a mom of 3 (not 4!!!!) boys, I know it can be really difficult. Best wishes!

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