Outside the lines

Hard work pays in spades, top sellers

By TERESA HAMMOND
From a very young age Romance author Kimberly Van Meter saw her name in lights. She knew her name would be known, she just had little idea it would be in the way of close to 30 published Harlequin books and 50 short stories and novellas under a second pen name.

“Initially I wanted to be an actress,” Van Meter said. “I was obsessed with it. I was the ‘weird’ girl, according to all my friends.

“Writing was just something I did,” she continued. “I didn’t see it as a career, however, it’s something I always did.”

The published author shared she grew up poor with little means for common things taken for granted. She spent lots of time writing back stories for fun on paper she would recycle and bring home from the trash can in the teacher’s lounge.

“My dream was to go to LA with very set goals,” she said. “I was very driven. That has not changed.”

Life, however, brings with it circumstance and situations which can often sideline or reroute what one may see as their destiny or purpose. Such would be the case for Van Meter. Giving birth to her first two children at a younger age than she had planned, work became necessity.

“My paternal grandparents had a newspaper. I still remember the call to my grandmother crying,” she said of a call made while living in LA. “I told her I need $300 and a job.”

That call prompted her into a job as a journalist. A trade which she touts taught her all the ins and outs of a business which was good to her. During this time, she also began her love of writing and began giving consideration to becoming an author.

“I started getting serious in 1996,” she said, noting she began studying and researching the craft of being an author and how to go about being published and taken seriously.

“I was writing every day on my novel and trying to follow a certain schedule. My first book was 90,000 words and it’s a total mess.”

That book she submitted and it was rejected, as were the following two. By the fourth novel she got ‘the call.’

“It was always Harlequin,” she said. “I realized at that point I really enjoyed romance, because that’s what I like to read.”

The road to calling this her day job, though, was far from easy. Newspaper work by day, active family and tight financial struggles conspired to keep her from the shelves of bookstores and online literary outlets.

“It cost $70 to mail each manuscript,” she said. “Sometimes I would have to steal from our grocery budget or my mom would pay for it. But I wouldn’t give up. I just couldn’t and I’m glad I didn’t because it saved me.”

It was an investment in herself which proved fruitful for herself and her family. Van Meter now works full-time as an author. Her Alexx Andria pen name has earned her bragging rights as a USA Today Best Seller and her Harlequin work has given her a spot as a RITA nominated author.

She urges readers to view her profile at www.authoralexxandria.com to see the books Amazon hides from the general search and also to subscribe at http:/bit.ly/1D7mH9A if you’d like to be notified of new releases, special sales and get free eBooks.

“I always say this,” Van Meter offered for future authors, “write every day; make it a habit. Write your novel start to finish and then put it in a drawer and write the next one, because the first novel is rarely saleable.

“Your first novel you put everything in it and it shows. I went back and tried to salvage mine not too long ago. It’s a hot mess, but I love it. That’s what made me.”

Author Kimberly Van Meter’s Harlequin work can be found in select Target, Walmart, K-Mart and Barnes and Noble locations as well as on-line everywhere. For more information on Van Meter visit www.kimberlyvanmeter.com.

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