Joined Author Accelerator on 06/2016
Book Title: Exit Strategy
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Book Coach: Kemlo Aki
We had this interview scheduled with Lainey after she finished her manuscript through Author Accelerator, but then a few exciting things happened in quick succession that changed the direction of this interview. After she finished her novel, she went through The Pitch Track at Author Accelerator to get her pitch package perfect. So what happened? First, Lainey submitted her novel, Exit Strategy for the Rising Star Award through the Women's Fiction Association -- and became a finalist. Then, she submitted Exit Strategy to the The Colorado Gold Writing Contest and again, became a finalist. She sent out a batch of queries and days later received a full manuscript request. Lainey is a perfect example of how hard work, dedication and book coaching can create a successful future.
1.) Did you feel confident about your manuscript when you submitted it for the contest, or nervous?
Honestly? I had low expectations. This is my first book and the Rising Star Award, from Women Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), was the first contest I’ve entered. I’d seen the quality of writing from other WFWA members and as a new writer, I didn’t consider myself in their league. So, although I polished my pages for the competition, making the five finalists came as a complete surprise. At the time the finalists were announced I was on my roof deck eating breakfast and editing pages. I screamed so loud the neighbors must have thought someone in the house was in real danger.
2.) What were your first thoughts when you heard the news that you'd won?
I wrote a blog post that night where I shared my first reaction, which was “Wow, I guess the book isn’t total crap, then?” You spend so long (years), creating this thing called a book, and not knowing whether it will ever be read and enjoyed. After a hundred variations of self-doubt, reaching the finalists in a contest is like a massive billboard scrolling down from the sky with “Don’t give up yet” printed on it.
3.) Have you started working on another book yet? Do you plan to? (We hope the answer is YES!)
I’m not yet done with this one! I’m still polishing as I’ve yet to send the full manuscript out to agents (soon, in the coming weeks!). But, I know the publishing process is a long one, and I’m just entering the rejection-central phase. There are some ideas knocking around my head for book two. I’m intending to keep the same locale set in Silicon Valley, and for sure will stick with the commercial/women’s fiction category. Beyond that, I expect to go through the same process as the first draft of this book - just keep escalating the situation on my characters until I stretch the bounds of “What If?”. Then rewrite and rewrite!
4.) Would you be willing to share how working with Author Accelerator helped you in your process?
I couldn’t have gotten this far without Author Accelerator and my amazing coach. A year ago, I had a first draft, and was a few months into draft two. The problem was I’d read every writing book I could lay my hands on. However if you follow 100% of the writing advice out there (remove flashbacks, remove internal dialog, only show no telling, show some setting, but not too much etc etc), you end up with a hollow shell of a book which is what I was doing to a half decent first draft (hollowing it out).
I needed help with learning to rewrite and edit, and that was where my amazing coach Kemlo Aki came in. Together we went through ten or twenty pages week by week, so I could learn what was good and needed to stay in, and what was unnecessary (example: flashbacks are not a hard no, but they have to be relevant to a decision in story present). Kemlo also showed me that I was expecting my readers to be psychic and guess why events in the book mattered to my characters.
What no-one tells you is if you follow every piece of advice in every book you end up with nothing. After working with Kemlo, I’ve started to think of writer voice as deciding which rules you will follow, and which you will break. And when you decide to break a rule, knowing why you did so.
Lainey Cameron spent two decades as a marketing exec, immersed in the irony and absurdity of Silicon Valley. She recently dropped out of tech, became a global nomad, and is focused on honing her writing. She is active in in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, where she runs their online workshop program and trained with Margie Lawson’s immersion program and Jennie Nash’s Author Accelerator coaching.
In 2017, her first book became a finalist in both the Colorado Gold Novel Contest (Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) and the WFWA Rising Star Award for unpublished women’s fiction.
Kemlo started out as a technical writer, drafting manuals designed to instruct and inform. Then, for seventeen years, she home educated her three children so they could learn in their own way and at their own pace. She wrote about what her family was learning and why, published newsletters and websites designed to help other educators, and wrote thousands of emails to parents seeking information and reassurance. More recently, she has studied rhetoric and models for online learning while earning her MA in professional writing. Trained by Jennie Nash and Lisa Cron, she joined Author Accelerator as a book coach in 2014.