Author Interviews: Kelly Bennett Seiler talks about her writing process and The Plan

Kelly Bennett Seiler Author Interviews

Hi, readers!  My name is Kelly Bennett Seiler.  I live in Austin, TX, but grew up in New Jersey (miss the pizza and bagels, but not the traffic). From there I attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania for my undergraduate and Master’s degrees (don’t miss the snow, but do miss those college years), and then my husband and I headed to Fort Riley, Kansas for our Army days (hated the ferocious wind, but definitely miss our Army family).  I have degrees in English, Education and Counseling.  I love Austin. Honestly, there’s nothing to NOT love about Austin. (Sorry about the double negative.)  I have three kids who I, simultaneously, adore and want to shake till they stop driving me nuts.  I never have enough time to read.  I never get enough sleep.  I eat too much sugar and don’t drink enough water.  I want to live in Ireland.

Shifting Time is my debut novel.  It’s the story of Meade, a woman who loses the love of her life, Daniel, when he passes away at a very young age.  Over the next fifteen years, she creates a successful life, but not a happy one.  She is simply going through the motions, never able to fully let go of Daniel – until one day, when she unexpectedly wakes up into an alternate world – one in which Daniel is still alive, and has been for the past fifteen years.  She’s given the opportunity to see how her life, and the world, would have been altered if he’d lived, thus causing her to face the question, “Is what she’s gained worth what she’s destined to lose?”

You can stay in touch with me via my website www.kellybennettseiler.com , on Twitter @kbennettseiler or on Facebook: Kelly Bennett Seiler

When did you first start writing and how did you go about starting your first novel?

I’ve always loved to write – and always had a dream of becoming an author.  It seemed an impossible task, though, and frankly, I didn’t know where to begin.  About 7 years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing a screenplay.  It took me about 9 months to complete it. I was so proud of myself for actually finishing it, however, when I was done, I had no idea what to do with it!  Then, providence stepped in.  A college friend had a book coming out (one that eventually became a New York Times best seller).  He offered to ask some agents he knew to read my work.  Within six months, I had an agent – who asked me to turn my screenplay into a novel.  Two years later, I had a book deal with Simon and Schuster.  A year later, I had another one.

What is your advice for writers who are just starting out?

I know this seems like common sense, but apparently, it’s not. If I had a silver dollar for every time someone said to me, “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” but then revealed he or she’d never written a page, I wouldn’t need to sell a single copy of my own work. I could just give them away for free.  If you were to meet someone tomorrow who loved your idea and wanted to make your dream come true, you’d need to have something tangible to show her. It would be a lot more likely she’d stay in touch if you could send her something to review, than if you said, “OK, great, I’ll send what I have in six months to a year.

What has been your proudest moment as a writer?

I had my first big book event at the independent bookstore, Book People, in Austin on the night Shifting Time released.  There were well over a hundred people there and the store sold out of books and needed to order more.  I spoke and then did a signing.  It was a fabulous evening, but the best part was later that night, when all my kids, individually, told me how proud they were of me.  You can’t buy that kind of joy.

How do you deal with criticism?

I hate it.  (Can I stop there?)  Okay, I’ll go on…when I first started out, my agent asked me if I wanted to see my rejections.  I told her, unequivocally, NO!  (Unless they were constructive in such a way that would help me improve my writing.)  If criticism is constructive, like the feedback I receive from my writing group, then I embrace it.  If it’s just criticism to be mean, I try to let it slide off my back – easier said than done, of course.

If you could only read one book, what would it be?

Jane Eyre.  Love, love, love.

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

It’s not easy to autograph an ebook, but other than that, I think they’re a wonderful concept.  I know many people who prefer to read on their device and I think that’s great . . .  anything that gets people reading.  (Personally, audiobooks are my mode of choice.)  

As far as alternative publishing, I’ve never done it, so I can’t say much about it except – I doubt I ever would. Conventional publishing is a difficult road in many ways – and I don’t mean just getting a book deal.  These days, much of the publicity is left in the author’s hands.  Fortunately, I’ve found that the name, Simon and Schuster, opens many a door.  I doubt I’d have much success in that area if I self-published.  In addition, writing books will not make you rich (unless you become a Steven King or J.K.Rowling) – even with a conventional publisher.  I have yet to meet anyone who has done anything but lose money while self-publishing.

How do you find or make time to write?

With three kids and, until recently, a number of part-time jobs, it hasn’t been easy.  I write in small bursts.  Luckily, I write quickly.  I try to go somewhere away from my house so I’m not distracted by dishes and laundry and the television and my bed – which calls my name and says, “Nap!”  When I’m on a tight deadline, I go to a hotel, alone, for a night or two and write till all hours of the morning.

What was the inspiration for your latest book?

When I was sixteen, a boy I loved very much passed away.  Since he died, I have wondered “What if he’d lived?” Would we still be in each other’s lives?  Would we be friends?  Would we be just Facebook friends?  Would he have the career he dreamed of as a teenager?  Would he have had a family?  How would the lives of his family have changed if he’d never died?

I think I’ve been writing this story, in my mind, for the past twenty-five years.

What’s next for you?

I’m super excited about what’s coming up next.  My new novel, The Plan, is due to be released on September 20, 2016.  It’s available for pre-order now!  Here’s the description:

Kelly Bennett Seiler The PlanClaire Matthews’ entire world—the one she shared with her husband and three children—shattered into a million pieces on a dark, winter road the day after Christmas. The only survivor of a brutal car crash that claimed the life of her entire family, she struggles to find a reason to wake up each morning.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Irishman Callum Fitzgerald’s actual birth was deemed a tragedy. Born a trilateral amputee, no one expected his life to amount to anything. Now in his thirties, Callum has defied the odds. Victorious over his own limitations, he’s built a life and a career around encouraging others to find a purpose for their pain. He assures the tens of thousands who flock from all around the world to hear his inspirational message that nothing occurs by happenstance; there’s always a greater plan.

Claire and Callum. Two individuals with seemingly little in common. Separated by years, physical abilities, and half a world. Yet, their lives unexpectedly converge, thus beginning a love story so profound and enduring, it turns the darkest tragedies into spectacular triumphs.

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Kelly Bennett Seiler Shifting Time Shifting Time 

In this entertaining and thought-provoking novel, a thirty-something woman wakes up one day to discover her long-lost love has come back to life. But is this new reality truly the answer to her heart’s desires?

Despite her great life in New York City as a prestigious book editor, Meade Peterson can’t shake the heartache of losing her high school sweetheart. Fifteen years after his death, she still thinks about all the things—love, family, happiness—she’ll never have, now that Daniel’s gone. That is, until a new man, Tanner, enters Meade’s life and brings her the kind of joy she hasn’t experienced in years. She’s torn, though, over whether she can bear giving her heart away again. Taking time to reflect, Meade returns to her hometown of Austin for what should be a relaxing visit—but instead, she becomes the victim of a violent crime.

Upon waking from her real-life Texas nightmare, Meade finds herself in another world where she doesn’t recognize anything, until she realizes the man in bed beside her isn’t a stranger—it’s Daniel. Meade has awakened into an alternate existence where Daniel is very much alive, and has been part of her life for the past fifteen years.

Meade can’t believe her good fortune—she’s finally experiencing the life she’s always wanted! Or is she? As Meade quickly learns, if one thing in your life changes, nothing else may stay the same. And now she’s forced to face the question: Is what she’s gained worth what she’s destined to lose?

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About the Author

Scott Mullins is a freelance writer and digital content manager. When he’s not finding ways to distract himself from writing his novel he writes killer copy for companies all over the world. Connect with Scott on Twitter @ScottMullins86 or LinkedIn. He’s always looking to connect with other writers.