In high school, Kathleen Krevat wrote a short story comparing an over-involved mother to a plant dying from being watered too much. “It was seriously heavy-handed but my teacher loved it,” she says.
Fast forward through college at Carnegie Mellon University to a career in marketing and public relations in New York, to meeting her husband, moving to California and becoming a stay-at-home mom. Krevat adds, “When my youngest was four and in preschool every morning, I decided to write a romance. Months later, I realized it was a lot harder than it looked and I joined Romance Writers of America-San Diego. I attended their monthly workshops and bought practically every craft book recommended; I learned that crafting a story is a lot different from writing advertising copy.”
Krevat attended the SDSU Writers’ Conference four times (spread out over 11 years). Each time, it gave her publishing information, writing workshops that taught her something new, and access to agents and editors in both formal and informal settings. She adds, “Practicing talking to editors and agents was invaluable – it didn’t matter how many times I’d heard ‘they’re people too,’ the only thing that got me to the stage of being able to discuss my book with them professionally was practice. The other benefit of this conference was having drop-dead deadlines – my opening pages had to be edited and submitted by a certain date for advanced reads. My pitch had to be written and practiced before the date of the conference. As a stay-at-home mom, I often put my writing behind other priorities, but in this case I couldn’t.”
The conference also inspired her to send out her book to the agents and editors she met, to continue learning, and to just write. One morning, Krevat woke up with an idea of an amateur sleuth in suburban San Diego and wrote her first mystery, PTA Meetings Are Murder. She wrote and edited that book for many years. Every so often, she would send out queries. “I usually received good rejection letters that said I was a talented and funny writer, but it wasn’t a good fit. Then I’d dive back into my writing hole for another year or so until I gave the agent hunt a try again,” Krevat says.
It wasn’t until her oldest daughter went to college that Krevat decided to be more professional about her writing. She wrote almost every day and sent out queries. Agent Jessica Faust announced on Twitter that she was opening to queries for one weekend only and Krevat contacted her. She says, “Faust called to discuss representation, but felt the PTA book wasn’t a strong enough hook for a debut, and she wanted me to write a new series. I readily agreed and the result was a three-book deal with Berkley Prime Crime for The Chocolate Covered Mysteries.”
Regarding the SDSU Writers’ Conference, Krevat says, “The great majority of writers I’ve met at conferences are warm and engaging people who are delighted to hear about your writing and talk about their own. I’ve never heard of another industry where the individuals help each other so much – sharing publishing knowledge about which agents and editors are looking for what, forming critique groups, and encouraging each other as they move down the publishing path. There’s a unique energy that you feel being surrounded by people who are passionate about the same thing you are. It’s inspiring and invigorating and it makes you want to go home and write.
I’ve recommended this conference to many writers, especially those in southern California. We’re very lucky to have a conference of this caliber right here in our backyard. The SDSU Writers Conference has a great reputation for a reason – it is run by a very professional group of people who know what they are doing. They pull in a top agents and editors, offer high-quality workshops and work hard to make it a great experience for all levels of writers.”
Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates, under Krevat’s pen name, Kathy Aarons, is the first in a new mystery series by Berkley Prime Crime, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be available on September 2, 2014.