Monday, January 28, 2013

Kevin Klehr

Guest Blog by Kevin Klehr...


It took eight drafts before the final rewrite for my publisher, to get my novel in print. Along the way there was a draft we don’t talk about, but I’ll break my cone of silence and mention it later.

It seemed like a fun hobby. Something I had given away in my childhood years once puberty took over. I hadn’t picked up a pen and a notepad for many years, so now was the time to rediscover an early passion. That was ten years ago, and since the ballpoint first touched down on the paper, it has been re-imagined many times over.

Originally the novel was called Staging Life and began with our two leads, Allan and Warwick, visiting Allan’s eccentric uncle in the country. Besides a new love interest in the form of a retired poet named Pamela, Uncle Bryant had another surprise in store for his nephew. He built a rocket and expected Allan and Warwick to test drive it. This led to their demise where several celestial characters waited to greet them, including two women and a dirty old man.

This first draft took several years to finally complete, but once it passed the eyes of my assessor, I took my critique like a man. First off, she hated the fact that I began my novel with backstory. She told me that it was like idling your car before you drive it, keeping the reader waiting until the real journey begins. The lead up to their death could be told in flashback.

She was supportive of my writing in other ways, but pointed out two other major flaws. One was the number of characters I had. There were way too many, and several of them were extras rather than main players in too many scenes. The other was my lack of story. Allan and Warwick explored the Afterlife as passive observers.

After years of studying theater, film and television, I had forgotten the basic starting point of entertaining an audience - the story. My assessor was my first teacher in this venture, and guided me through two more drafts. Soon I joined a writers group, attended workshops, and popped up my first chapter online for review.

By the second draft, some characters were deleted while others morphed into one; my fantasy-like backstory was replaced with something more realistic; and my main characters began to have romantic issues. My assessor also told me to expand on the theater angle of the tale.

A bit of honesty here – my assessor is one of the best in the business, but I couldn’t afford her once the drafts extended beyond novella length. I worked hard on the rewrites, getting a lot of advice along the way. At the same time I was sending out various drafts, trying to get it published.

One US publisher did bite, but when I read the contract, alarm bells began to ring. Firstly, it was written in a way that would make me give up my copyright for good. Secondly, my royalties were severely diminished. Finally, if I wanted to write anything else, even if it was a pamphlet, I had to seek permission from the publisher. That last condition was the weirdest. As soon as I questioned the contract, the company dropped me like a hot potato.

Another small Australian publisher did give me some good feedback on my first chapter, but we’re not interested in giving me a contract. They did offer an assessment service that gave me the opinion of several professionals, and even though it was a bit costly, I thought it was worth it. Around that time I read of an Irish author in the same boat. She sent her manuscript to a publisher’s assessment service, and after taking on board their comments, rewrote her novel and finally had it published by the same company.

I thought I’d do one better (and this is where that ill-fated ninth draft came into play) – I took a few ideas from my rejection letter (which at the very least, gave me a sense of what type of books they were after), and rewrote the novel again. My partner told me this was a dumb idea and said I should have just passed on my latest draft. I should have listened.

The ninth draft made no sense. The characters’ motivations didn’t fit in with new twists in the plot, but I handed it in, thinking of it as a first draft for a new publisher. The assessment came back. It was scathing.

I licked my wounds and sometime later, spruced up the eighth draft for self-publishing in 2010. It was only on the market for three months before Charles River Press offered me a contract for the novel.

The final version has more rewrites, but this time under the direction of the publisher’s assigned editor. It’s a great feeling to know that it’s finally out there. The next one won’t take as long.

Drama Queens with Love Scenes 
Drama Queens Series Book One 

Kevin Klehr 

Genre: Gay Romance, Humour 
Publisher: Cambridge Press US (division of Charles River Press) 

Paperback ISBN 10: 1-936185-90-3 
Paperback ISBN 13: 978-1-936185-90-0
EBook ISBN 10: 1-936185-91-1
EBook ISBN 13: 978-1-936185-91-7
Number of pages: 338 
Word Count: 71,329

Cover Artist: Laurie McAdams 

Book Trailer:

Amazon BN Queer Books

Book Description:

Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They're not crazy about the idea so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.

They are soon drawn into the world of theatre - Afterlife style, with all the bitchiness, back-stabbing and ego usually associated with the mortal world.

Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.

Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.

Short Excerpt:

Warwick looked up and smiled. I wanted to savor his maroon lips. Their sheen was highlighted against the claret colored wall. I wanted to reach behind his head and slide my fingers through his thick curly hair, before slowly moving his lips to mine.

“I’m astounded!” he said.

I paused my daydream to compute what he’d uttered.

“Reassuringly ‘feels like home’ astounded, or unnervingly ‘what the frig’ astounded?”

“More like ‘stunned, I need answers but not jumping to conclusions’ astounded.”

“Warwick, at this stage we have no choice but to jump to conclusions. Where are we?”

“In the Limelight Quarter,” he replied blank faced.

“Very funny. You know what I mean.”

My friend wandered to the window. I watched him, unrealistically believing he could give me all the answers. He viewed the flourishing garden outside before turning to me.

“They all seem secretive,” he said. “The only answer I seem to get from people is the Limelight Quarter. I don’t feel we’re in danger though.”

“What choice do we have? After bonding with Guy last night, I feel pretty safe, too.”

“I guess it makes sense to find comfort in an angel. He’s the only one who has to be a true local.”

“Comfort, yes, answers, no.”

“Allan, I thought you’d find him sort of a geek. He’s a bit Gomer Pyle. When we first got here, you were admiring Samantha’s outfit and gawking at Guy’s.”

There was not much I could keep secret from Warwick.

“Okay, I did at first, but you left me so I had to get to know him. In some ways he reminded me of what I was like when you first met me. A bit of a lost soul. Our chat helped take my mind off this bizarre place.”

“Yes, Allan, I went home with Pedro to take my mind off this bizarre place.”

That repeated phrase reverberated in my head. I stared at Warwick. He stared back. The thought of my demise was hard enough to face, but this version of the Afterlife with no link back to concepts favored in religious texts, made it harder to accept. There was not an omnipotent being in sight. We had one angel surrounded by a cast from different eras of earth-bound time, going about their business with no qualms. And still, no one wanted to elaborate.

“Heaven or Hell?” my friend asked.

“Perhaps Limbo, or maybe we’re just having a weird dream?”

“Of course, Allan, at exactly the same time.” Warwick winked at me.

“Yeah maybe. Your wet-dream with Pedro and my, my...”

“Your buddy-genre dream with an angel.”

He made me smile. As he looked out at the garden again, a more believable explanation came to me.

“Warwick, maybe I’m just in a coma, and somewhere near my hospital bed you’re talking to me, trying to wake me up.”

“Allan, if I am talking to you from your hospital bed, how will I know you can hear me?”

“Look, Warwick, I’m wiggling my toes.”

My friend turned to see me lift my legs and shake both feet.

“Allan, what if you’re covered by a blanket, and I can’t notice your toes?”

“Don’t be silly, you’d notice my toes wiggling under the covers.”

“Maybe there’s a serving tray or a hospital chart on the sheets?”

I thrashed my legs more violently, just in case there was some truth in my theory.

“Allan, you’re not in a coma.”

“How can you be sure?”

“Because from my point of view, I might be the one in a coma.”

My legs stopped kicking.

“Warwick, either way we should keep conversing, so no one ends up pulling the plug from our life support.”

About the Author : 

Kevin lives with his long-term partner in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia's own 'Emerald City,' Sydney.

He calls himself a bit of a 'media tart,' having worked both professionally and voluntarily in television, radio and online. His longest running passion is a weekly radio program he and his partner, Warren, produce for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander station, Koori Radio. Since 2005 they have been discovering music, both new and old, and interviewing local artists and community leaders. Every Saturday night, the Rhythm Divine is heard across Sydney and via the world wide web.

From an early age Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn't pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his social circumstances changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, Warren snuck the notebook out to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his novel. It wasn't long before Kevin's active imagination was let loose again.

Kevin is currently at work on the sequel to Drama Queens with Love Scenes.

For more of the tour visit...

January 15 Feature in Bewitching Book Tours Magazine

January 18 Guest blog
Roxanne’s Realm

January 19 Interview

January 20 Guest blog and review
Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess

January 21 Promo
Fang-tastic Books

January 23 Interview

January 30 review

January 31 Guest blog
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

February 1 Interview and review
books & tales 


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