YA Guy is tickled to host one of my favorite authors, Kai Strand, whose latest novel, the YA contemporary I AM ME, is now available. Kai's here to talk about how she manages to be so prolific as an author, and then, as a special treat, she's provided an excerpt from her new book. Read on, and then find out about Kai and where to buy I AM ME!
Just Ger ‘Er Done!
Inspiration from Kai Strand
People often think I’m a fast writer, but I know plenty of authors who write faster than me. They’ll post their daily word counts of upwards of 5,000! I’m lucky if I hit 1,500. What I am – or have been – is consistent. Think: The Little Engine That Could or the tortoise from The Tortoise and The Hare.
My first book, a middle grade fantasy, The Weaver, was published at the very end of 2010 and I immediately began a quest to make it the world’s best-selling book. When I wasn’t even successful in scheduling my first book signing until March of 2011, I realized that marketing a book was both harder than I expected and very time consuming. I didn’t understand that I needed to concentrate more on writing the next book until well into 2011. Therefore, my second middle grade – a contemporary titled SAVE THE LEMMINGS – wasn’t published until 2012. But the second book in my Weaver Tale series was also published in 2012, The Wishing Well. I discovered that I liked publishing two books a year. I liked it very much, so that became my goal.
My first young adult book, King of Bad, was published in 2013 and I got a taste of good sales and that bestseller title I’d hoped for. In 2014, I decided to try my hand at self-publishing with a couple young adult novellas, all while publishing two different titles with publishers – making my publication count for the year FOUR books. I found it difficult to promote, though, and learned I wanted to keep it at two books a year. In 2015 I added a new pen name (L.A. Dragoni) so I could write romance for the grown-ups among us.
Needless to say, in order to publish all of these books, I had to keep writing. And if I average fewer than 1,500 words a day, that means I have to sit down and write on a regular basis. It isn’t always easy. I get sucked into social media or composing blog posts. There are plenty of times I have simply forced myself to open my WIP and just put some dang words down. And the crazy thing is…when you do that…seven years later, you have FIFTEEN books published.
It’s hard for me to comprehend that I’ve accomplished that, but with more books in the pipeline and several others underway…I know it won’t stop there.
I Am Me by Kai Strand
Despite—or perhaps because of—her fancy car, private school education, and life of privilege, Lola Renaldi has become a volunteer junkie. Feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, visiting the elderly—if it’s a good cause, she’s done it.
Lola’s favorite stint, building affordable houses, puts her directly in the path of Rodney. He refuses to discuss why he’s doing community service, but it’s clear he’s hiding something dark about his past. As their friendship grows, Lola begins to question the true reasons for her obsessive volunteerism and her view of those she has pledged to help.
She is only beginning to understand how lucky she truly is when her life falls apart. After losing friends, her boyfriend, even Rodney, Lola finally recognizes which parts of her life she wants to hang onto and what specifically she wants to go after. But with all she’s been through, will she be able to hang onto who she wants to be? Or will she lose all that defines her?
“Have you ever been completely surprised to learn the truth behind someone’s circumstances?”
Rod freezes, paintbrush held high overhead. “What do you mean?”
“Well, I have a friend who seems to have everything, you know? I’ve always known how far from the truth that is, but she’s got a rock solid façade. Or, she did until last weekend.”
Rod’s rigid posture relaxes, and he resumes spreading paint along the fascia. “Wasn’t last week homecoming?”
Tipping my head up, I stare at Rod in surprise. “Yeah, how did you know?”
I see one side of his mouth quirk. “You weren’t here last week. Hank said something about hair and makeup and fingernails.”
I continue to stare up at Rodney. His long frame at the top of a tall ladder makes my head spin in some reverse vertigo thing.
He stops working again and shifts sideways on the ladder. “Hey, are you okay?”
“Oh.” If I shake my head, will the myriads of thoughts spinning through it dissipate into dust, or at least fall into a nice orderly pile that I can sort through later? “I’m…it’s just…” Shrug.
Resting the brush in the paint tray, he somehow adopts a super casual pose on the ladder, perched precariously sideways, with his arms crossed over his chest. His tone is unexpected in its gentleness. “Is this 'friend' really you?”
“What? No!” I leap to my feet and his eyebrows arch, which for some reason makes me mad. “Rodney, why would you even think that?”
His head cocks sideways in consideration. “Someone who seems to have everything. Someone you know well enough that you’re the only one to know she doesn’t.”
I slam my hands on my hips, though really, I want to slug him. “It’s a friend of mine. I’ve known her forever.” A strange expression passes over his face and my anger wafts away on the chilly breeze. “Do you have any friends, Rodney?”
He gives a strange one-shoulder shrug that he probably hopes appears dismissive but is actually an admission of truth. The question of what he did to earn community service—tons of hours of community service, apparently—flashes through my mind and for the first time I wonder if befriending him like I have was really so smart.
A tinge of anger darkens his caramel colored eyes making me think of toffee.
“We’ve moved a lot.”
Oh. Not what I expected. Before I can reply, he continues.
“Poor people do that, you know.”
I open my mouth to voice my offense. His tone is so accusatory. But I see guilt and regret and embarrassment flash in his expression, so I slam my lips shut.
Here's where to buy I AM ME:
To connect with Kai, go here: