Kim Rendfeld On Leaving Your Debut Behind

Welcome to another of my fabulous acronym-based interviews. The second novel is no easy feat, and with that in mind I put together a series of questions for debuts who are tackling the second obstacle in their career path. I call it the SNOB - Second Novel Omnipresent Blues. Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie.

Today's guest for the SNOB is Kim Rendfeld, who has a lifelong fascination with fairy tales and legends, which set her on her quest to write The Cross and the Dragon, her debut novel. She grew up in New Jersey and attended Indiana University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English, with a minor in French. In 2007 she joined the marketing and communications team at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She gets paid to agonize over commas and hyphens, along with suggesting ways to improve writing, and thoroughly enjoys it.

Her second novel, The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar is set in the wake of Charlemagne in the year 772. Set against a backdrop of historic events, including the destruction of the Irminsul, it explores faith, friendship, and justice. This companion to Kim Rendfeld’s acclaimed The Cross and the Dragon tells the story of an ordinary family in extraordinary circumstances. You can read the first few chapters of both Kim's books on her site for free!

Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?

Everyone has their own way to decide on when to start book No. 2. Whenever I finish writing a manuscript, I go through a form of grief, one that can be remedied only by starting on another book. So The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar was the only way I could cope with leaving The Cross and the Dragon behind. Working on another project also took some of the anxiety out the query process. It gave me something else to concentrate on besides all those rejections.

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

It took so long to get Cross and Dragon published that I had gone through three major drafts of Ashes and started on a third manuscript. Still, once my debut was published, I focused on promotion for three months. Then I realized promotion is never really done, and I simply needed to get back to the manuscript.

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

I don’t have a particular audience in mind when I’m writing fiction. I’m mainly focused on telling a good story with characters who are true to their time – the early Middle Ages in this case – but still appealing and relatable to modern readers. Even with book No. 3 (tentatively titled Lady Queen Fastrada), my first priority is the story.

Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?

I was busy even before publication – a full-time job, a blog, a social media presence, and oh yes, my novel. In addition, I enjoy gardening and do some volunteer work at my local library. So time management feels like a juggling act. Each night and weekend, I must ask myself what gets priority: a blog post, publicity, my work in progress, critique of a friend’s work. In other words, what do I put off for another night? Sometimes the answer is deadline driven. My crutch is my handwritten lists. Note the plural.

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

I wrote most of the second manuscript while I was still unpublished, so the writing process wasn’t that different. However, one thing I got to skip in this go-around was the query process, and that is liberating. Of course, Fireship Press needed to review the finished manuscript before making an offer, but to have a publisher truly interested in your work is a great feeling and a boost in confidence. It allowed me to focus on polishing the manuscript rather than agonizing over a cover letter.

On the publishing and promotion side, there was a four-month wait between sending the finished book to the printer and releasing it for sale. The reason was to allow time to arrange the virtual book tour and other publicity. I am very grateful to Fireship Press for believing in my work to make such an investment. I didn’t mind the wait. In fact, it gave me time to write guest posts, work on novel No. 3, even take a vacation or two to see family.