After a genealogy search turned up some fascinating facts about her great-grandfathers, author Linda Kuhlmann, decided to pen a fictional tale based on their journey from Germany to America. I recently asked Linda about her writing, marketing, and publishing experiences in the hope that her story can help your stories.
Family secrets, intrigue, and murder!
The year is 1937 when two brothers are forced to leave their home in Germany. They arrive in New York City with only a white Lipizzan stallion and a stolen Friedrich painting. What happens next affects three generations of the Maseman family as they become torn apart by greed, war, and revenge.
Years later, Emma Maseman discovers the harsh truth about her family when she is investigated for the theft of Koenig’s Wonder, a Kentucky Derby winning thoroughbred.
As the mysteries unravel, Koenig’s Wonder races toward the finish line in a brilliant and thoroughly engrossing fashion.
1. Koenig’s Wonder is based on the journey of your great-grandfather and his brother to America and their subsequent separation. What challenges did you face in bridging the tight-rope between truth and fiction?
Surprisingly, it was relatively easy. I incorporated actual locations where my family lived, along with some of the experiences I had with my parents, such as going to Arlington Race Track near Chicago. I then let my imagination and characters drive the fiction. We’ve never owned a Friedrich painting, nor did we have the Lipizzan horses. As far as I know, the third brother is also fiction, but I’m still not totally sure of some of my family’s background.
2. So many of us are on the other side of the publishing machine, newbies hoping to break in. What has been your particular experience with publishing? How long did the process take, from signing the contract to holding the book in your hand for the first time
I pitched Koenig’s Wonder to a young editor from St. Martin’s Press at my first Willamette Writers (WW) Conference. She wanted the entire manuscript. However, by the time I’d mailed it, she was no longer there and the new editor was not interested. Then I later heard M. K. Wren speak at a WW meeting about her experience with Print-On-Demand publishers. At that time, my father’s health began to fail and, since Koenig’s Wonder was mostly about his family, I wanted to get a finished copy of my novel in his hands before he died. I chose Llumina Press because they had a selection and editing process as well as the policy of allowing me to keep full rights to my novel. The manuscript was sent to them in March of 2004. After some edits, Koenig’s Wonder was published in November that year.
3. Most of us are clueless about how to market our writing. Have you found that much of the marketing is up to you? What techniques have you used? Which did you find the most successful, and which were not worth the time or money?
Yes, even in the traditional publishing world, you’ll still need to market yourself and your work. I was blessed with a father who was a salesman. Unlike most writers, I have no problem with marketing. I’ve found the Internet to be very helpful in getting the word out with very little investment. Recently, I have a new webmaster. She’s done a marvelous job in designing my new website: www.lindakuhlmann.com. Also I’ve learned to market outside the bookstore and found that racetracks and equestrian events are a great location for book signings for Koenig’s Wonder. Placing ads in related theme magazines has been a good investment as well. But mostly it’s the face-to-face, beat-the-pavement selling that works. If you are passionate about your work, that will come through to your buyers.
4. What is your writing process? Did you begin with an outline or family history? Did you travel for your research? Is there a certain time of day that you write?
I write every day, but not with a structured timeline. I’m always editing pages or making notes for new ideas. Koenig’s Wonder began with a genealogy search on my father’s family. When the idea to convert my research into a novel began, I sat down and wrote what I call the first rough draft. I do this on all of my novels to get that spark onto paper so that I don’t lose track of my reason for writing it. Then I’ll go back and create an outline to make sure I’m keeping the plot moving and introducing more characters.
As far as traveling for research goes, for Koenig’s Wonder I visited Churchill Downs to get the descriptives of that marvelous racetrack. Then at a local track in Oregon, I interviewed vets, jockeys, trainers, and owners in the backstretch. The farm in Indiana was where I had spent my summers as a child.
5. What advice might you have for a writer struggling to complete his or her first novel? How did you manage it with a full-time job?
Set your own deadline! This will help to keep you focused on your project. Once I did this I found myself possessed by the story until it was finished. I used every spare moment to write or edit, keeping track of where I left off so I could begin there again the next day. I’ve been invited by Willamette Writers to hold a workshop at this year’s conference on just this subject. Visit their Web site for more information: www.willamettewriters.com. Writers critique groups and writers organizations, such as Willamette Writers and Oregon Writers Colony, are helpful in keeping you focused on your writing.
6. Any new projects coming down the pipe?
Currently, I am finishing the edits on my second novel, The Red Boots, about a young Irish sculptor who leaves her world art tour to see her father in Oregon. She doesn’t know that a serial killer has followed her from Dublin. The Red Boots is unrelated to Koenig’s Wonder and began as a screenplay, which I recently sent to a contest in New York. When I complete The Red Boots novel, I have outlines for two sequels to Koenig’s Wonder. It’s really a Triple Crown sort of story, so I think it needs three novels.
About the Author:
Linda Kuhlmann grew up in Lincoln, Illinois and moved to Oregon almost thirty years ago. She has been writing most of her life, but her fiction has always had to take a back seat for her job as a Systems Analyst. During her work, she wrote training curriculums and materials for the computer software classes that she taught.
Early in 2004, she retired from the technical field to begin her new career as an author. Her first novel, Koenig’s Wonder, was published in October 2004. Since then, Linda has been marketing her novel as well as writing a screenplay and working on her second novel.