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Kate O’Keeffe is the perfect Valentine’s Day guest for this week’s Binge Reading. A USA Today. best selling author of laugh out loud, rom coms, sweet romance, feel good stories with gorgeous Happily Ever Afters.
Hi there. I’m your host, Jenny Wheeler. And on Binge Reading today, Kate talks about a recent book of hers, Never Fall For The One That Got Away, the last book in the It’s Complicated series that asks and beautifully answers. a key question.
If life gives you a second chance with the one that got away, do you take it?
This week’s Book Offers and Giveaways
We’ve got five copies of this E book to give away. We’ll draw it before February 14. So the contest closes February 12 and we’ll have it winging it way to you by the 14th, so you can sit there, eating chocolates and drinking wine while you read it. (You’ll have to provide those for yourself, sorry!)
We’ve also got a couple of other great giveaways. A Historical Fiction Sale with 65 books in it. Great titles, many different time periods and locations, including Susannah’s Secret, Book Two in my new Home At Last series,
And then we’ve also got an American Historical Fiction Giveaway, eight paperbacks, one winner. You have to enter by February 8. Once again, I’ve got Unbridled Vengeance in this one, Book Five in the Of Gold & Blood series.
Links in this episode
Bridget Jones’ Diary: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/227443.Bridget_Jones_s_Diary
Bridget Jones and Pride and Prejudice: https://www.tampabay.com/archive/2001/05/01/secrets-from-bridget-jones-s-diary/
Pride and Prejudice: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1885.Pride_and_Prejudice
Marian Keyes: https://www.mariankeyes.com/
Sophie Kinsella: https://www.sophiekinsella.co.uk/
Leeanna Morgan: https://www.leeannamorgan.com/
Where To find Kate O’Keeffe Online
Private Facebook Group you can ask to join: Kate’s Cupids: https://www.facebook.com/groups/katescupids
Introducing Romcom author Kate O’Keeffe
But that’s enough of the housekeeping. Here’s Kate.
Jenny Wheeler: Hello there, Kate, and welcome to the show. It’s great to have you with us.
Kate O’Keeffe: Hi, Jenny. It’s fantastic to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
Jenny Wheeler: We’re thrilled to have you on this Valentine’s Week, and as I’ve mentioned in the intro, you do live in New Zealand in Hawkes Bay in a beautiful area, but you write international bestsellers set in many other parts of the world. Tell us how you got into this right at the beginning.
Kate O’Keeffe: Got into writing you mean?.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, the writing.
Kate O’Keeffe: Well, I have always been a voracious reader, and I imagine most writers will say that ever since I was a little girl. I grew up in a family with a father who was a business professor and published many books 20 plus books. So I was always around the possibility that I could do it.
Of course, what I write is extraordinarily different from business books,., the other end of the spectrum as it were.
I’d studied literature at university and I was a bit of a literary snob. In fact, I wouldn’t read anything that wasn’t a prize winner or a literary classic. and then one day a friend of mine handed me Bridget Jones’ Diary and I read that and absolutely loved it.
‘Gosh’ I can read for enjoyment!
And I had this epiphany where I thought, gosh, I can read for enjoyment instead of just bettering myself and reading the classics to make sure I’ve read all the classics.
And that really was the beginning of me realizing that actually I might like to write this as well, and over the years, I began to write a few ideas down.
It wasn’t until my son was two and he was napping, and I wasn’t going to work at the time. I was a stay-at-home mother and I just thought, you know what? I might just try, I might just see if I can do this. And that was, gosh, 13, 14 years ago. and I loved it. I was absolutely addicted to it.
It was a hobby for years and then it became a career about 2017.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s fantastic. So when you were reading the literary books, were you thinking in terms of possibly trying to do some sort of literary. Yourself.
Kate O’Keeffe: I did think of that initially, and then I thought that, I might find that I got very bogged down in it and I wasn’t having that enjoyment that I felt when I read that first Helen Fielding book, Bridget Jones’ Diary and all the subsequent Chick lit authors like Marion Key, Sophie Kinsella, , those books, and I wanted to enjoy it and have that joy.
Bringing happiness to people’s lives
For me, bringing happiness to people’s lives and escapism, the happily ever after all of that just really, spoke to me and it spoke to my personality. So, that’s what I did. And I actually haven’t tried to write anything literary for a very long time, and I have no plans to do so. I’m happy with what I do.
Jenny Wheeler: It very much comes through in your writing. I feel in the tone of it, that you are enjoying it yourself, That it’s fun. Now we’re going to be particularly talking about your most recent series, It’s Complicated and you’ve got a new one next month as well. That sounds really fun. The first title of which is Faking It with the Grump.
I think a lot of women could identify with that title! But so tell us a bit about It’s Complicated. That most recent series that you’ve recently completed.
Kate O’Keeffe: Well, that’s a four book series set in London, and it’s actually a spinoff from my Love Manor series, which is the Dating Mr. Darcy books, So the sister of the man who poses. As Mr. Darcy in those books is the first book, So Never Fall for Your Backup Guy. And that is based around a character called Zara.
And Zara is Mr. Darcy’s sister. So, I wanted to, spin that series off because I’d loved writing that series, and I’d really enjoyed writing Zara, who was just a side character in the first book. she didn’t play any special role other than being Mr. Darcy’s sister, and loving, Emma, who’s the Elizabeth Bennett character.
So, as in the Pride and Prejudice storyline, I created a bunch of friends for her. One of them had been a contestant on that show. and the other two were new characters and each character gets a book.
And, it was such a fun series to write. I absolutely loved it and I really love Zara and I in fact dedicated that whole book to my dad who passed away when, quite some years ago and when I was in my thirties.
So, it had a held special meaning to me.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes. I’d like to add at this point that. Although we are talking series here, you do underline that they can all be read as standalone. So they’ve got nice, that nice positioning of, you don’t have to read the whole series to be able to appreciate the book. But if you really love the book, there are other books very similar to it that you can move on to.
Kate O’Keeffe: Yes, because in all of my series, except for the Love Manor series, which are the Darcy books, every book is about a different friend. So, you can read their story from start to finish in one book. but if you want to know what happens in other people’s lives, other characters’ lives, then read the series.
Breaking into the US market
But I do have readers who come to me from reading Book Four in a series, for example, and don’t realize it’s in a series, but are still perfectly satisfied with the storyline. There are no cliff hangers, nothing like that.
Jenny Wheeler: And right from the beginning, did you decide that you wanted to go for an international market? Was it any harder for you starting off this career in New Zealand than it would’ve been if you’d been living, say, in Washington?
Kate O’Keeffe: I actually think it is a little bit harder for us New Zealanders, particularly because the US is the market that I targeted, mainly because it’s the largest market. and not living there, not speaking American English…
We all think we understand American English because we watch TV programs or read books in American English, but actually it’s much more nuanced than we realize.
So I always have an American editor and an American proofreader, so that’s something to consider. But also just networking and meeting people. I was lucky enough, very early on to join a Facebook group that was dedicated to my sort of writing… It was called Chicklit Chat HQ.
Finding new friends and nominated for awards
It was full of authors like me, independently published authors who wrote humorous romances or romcoms or Chicklit. One of my books was nominated and was a finalist for an award in LA about, 2016. And my husband said to me, why don’t you jump on a plane and go over to the ceremony?
It was part of a conference as well. So I did, I didn’t win the award, but I felt like I won friendships because I ended up meeting all these authors that I’d “met” in inverted coma, online. And they were all trying to do the same thing. And we formed these fantastic relationships.
They’re really my tribe. I didn’t know anybody who was writing what I wrote in New Zealand. and then still I’d say there’s not very many of us. and so. That was great. That was really useful. And in terms of getting back to your question, , I think I’ve got off topic, haven’t I?
Jenny Wheeler: I think that’s just absolutely fine. You said that you did feel it was a wee bit more difficult than if you’d not been in the US, which is where we came in. You mentioned that there aren’t many New Zealanders writing this kind of fiction in New Zealand, but we do have a romance writers conference here,
The benefits of being in Kindle Unlimited
That’s how I actually met you last year. so there is a bit going on here in that regard, but it’s certainly a real kudos to be nominated for an award like that. That must have been fantastic.
Kate O’Keeffe: Oh yes, absolutely. It happened a couple years running, in fact. and I was really, I felt very honored. I have yet to win it , but no. in, when I said there’s not very many of us in New Zealand, what I meant was, humorous. women’s fiction, romance writers. So there are a lot of romance authors, but authors who write romantic comedies, is really what I’m referring to.
And that’s my genre: romantic comedy.
Jenny Wheeler: Y A lot of listeners may not quite get the difference between being self-published and being traditionally published and also going into Kindle Unlimited and being almost exclusively sold through Amazon or being more widely published now.
Tell us a little bit about the decisions you made in terms of those offer choices when you were starting out.
Which way did you decide to approach it strategically? Did you take it on as a bit of a business proposition right from the start?
A hobby that has turned into a career
Kate O’Keeffe: I really didn’t, I’d like to say I did, but I didn’t. I just thought I’d read an article about these savvy Wellington authors who had self published their books and were doing well with it. My husband suggested that I give that a try. He brought me a Kindle actually for my birthday, and I was like, okay, this was back in about 2010, 2011.
And I thought, you know what? Why don’t I give that a shot? I actually never really tried to go the traditional route. I’d seen that you could self publish. and I liked the idea of having that control.
But as I said, I really wasn’t very business minded for about three years. It wasn’t until about 2016 that I decided that I wanted to make my hobby turn into a career.
So I did quite a lot of research at that point into what was selling and what I want to write, I did a little, you know, the Venn diagram in my head and found the cross section between those two.
And that’s when I started writing my series called the Cozy College Cafe, which starts with one last, first date and goes to three to four last first dates, all set in Auckland.
And, those books were the best selling books on Amazon in Australasia for three months.
Paperbacks available everywhere
So, I realized, yes, I’ve made my goal, I’d set a target for myself and I’d done it. So I was quite stoked by that. in terms of, Kindle Unlimited versus Wide as it’s called, so Kindle Unlimited is an ‘all you can eat’ kind of subscription program that Amazon offers.
You pay a fee each month. It’s a little bit like Spotify. you pay a fee each month and then you can read as many eBooks as you want that are listed under Kindle Unlimited. I still have lots of books in Kindle Unlimited. It’s been very kind to me. But what it means is that you cannot then sell your eBooks elsewhere.
Paperbacks, it’s a, different story. My paperbacks are available, to any online retailer, and have been for years and years. But, eBooks, it’s quite different. So I’ve recently pulled, the Cozy Cottage Cafe series that I just mentioned out of Kindle Unlimited, and they’re now available on Kobo and Apple and anywhere you buy your eBooks.
but all my other books are still in Kindle Unlimited and. The authors don’t set the rules. Amazon sets the rules. You cannot have your books elsewhere if you are with Kindle Unlimited.
Top selling Cozy Cafe Series all set in Auckland
Jenny Wheeler: Especially in the romance genre it’s very much a pathway, isn’ t it? You get really good, audience attention from a lot of romance readers are in KU.
Kate O’Keeffe: Yes, absolutely. And I think in the lots and lots of ways, it’s easier to gain your readership. The reason I’ve pulled the Cozy Cottage Cafe books out is because I’ve been doing this for some years now. They’ve been in Kindle Unlimited for a long time.
So they were published 2017 and 2018. And, I wanted to try something new and see if I could find a different market for them.
So it’s an experiment. We’ll see how it goes. maybe I’ll miss kind Kindle Unlimited, but it’s, a press of a button away.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes.
Kate O’Keeffe: The wonderful thing about technology.
Jenny Wheeler: And you mentioned that those, think the first two series were set in New Zealand, and then you decided to go offshore. What was behind that decision?
Faking It With The Grump is book #23
Kate O’Keeffe: I had the idea of the Dating Mr. Darcy books, the Love Manor books. and that idea I felt needed to be based in the UK. We don’t have a lot of aristocracy here in New Zealand, Or any . So I felt it would work much better there. I’d had advice from, a publisher who I’d been talking to in the US that books set in the US or with American characters do sell better.
So I thought, let’s branch out. I can always come back to New Zealand, and write books in New Zealand again
Jenny Wheeler: So how many books have you written in all?
Kate O’Keeffe: The book that’s coming out next month, Faking it with the Grump is book number 23.
Jenny Wheeler: Fantastic. So about how many do you publish a year?
Kate O’Keeffe: I try to publish four a year. Last year I was, unwell for several months, so I missed that target. I only had two last year, but four is doable for me. It’s three months for the entire process. So that’s the first draft, the second, third, fourth, fifth draft, .Then it’s, you know, involving an editor, copy, editor proofread, et cetera.
It does tend to take that amount of time. I’m a reasonably fast writer, but I’m not fast the way some of these romance authors are.
Cozy Cafe books sparked by Reality TV
Jenny Wheeler: Now, , you mentioned about reality TV and it’s funny, in that Love Manner Romance series, you set the, the Mr Darcy series behind the scenes in a Reality TV show, which is like the two ends of the spectrum in terms of cultural, um,..
Kate O’Keeffe: Yes, very much.
Jenny Wheeler: I suppose. Tell us a bit about that, and also I gather Reality TV has actually prompted your imagination, for you and some of your other series.
So tell us a bit about that.
Kate O’Keeffe: It has. Absolutely. And the first time it happened was actually I was watching Married at First Sight Australia, which none of my friends watch and I actually have to find people who are a lot younger than me to talk to about it. But I was watching that and it just struck me that that is just an insane thing to do to marry somebody you’ve never met.
And that actually inspired the Cozy Cottage Cafe series because. About a group of four friends who agree on an Auckland beach one night after possibly too much chardonnay that they’re pushing 30 and they’re sick of dating these idiots, and they would actually like to get serious.
30 Somethings looking to change their lifestyle
Kate O’Keeffe: So they agree that instead of being on the dating scene, and not making the right choices, they would instead force themselves into making the right choices by agreeing that they would marry the next guy they dated. so the first character, Cassie in one last first date, she’s like the alpha of the group.
And she takes three months vetting a guy before she’ll even go out with him because she doesn’t want to waste your time on people who aren’t right for ber. So that’s, that was, That was married at First Sight Australia. And as far as Love Manor is concerned, I love Pride and Prejudice. Absolutely love it.
I mean, it’s one of the reasons I loved, Bridget Jones’s Diaries so much. Because of course it’s a retelling of that story. I’ve read lots of retellings and always wanted to write something about Darcy and Elizabeth, and it occurred to me one day when watching The Bachelor that wouldn’t it be interesting if we had someone posing as Mr.Darcy, who’s very much a Mr. Darcy character, on a dating show.
Like, isn’t that insane? And it was actually during, lockdown here, the first lockdown we had in the April, three years ago. I was writing something else at the time and it just kept on popping up in my head and I thought, right, I’m gonna abandon that project, which I’ve never done before, and I’m going to write this. And, yeah, it just flowed outta me. I absolutely loved it.
Thank you Jane Austen
Jenny Wheeler: Look, I love the, the tagline you’ve got for that and I must read it out cause it’s just so funny. Well, it’s one of the books in that series is: Is it a Truth personally acknowledged that a girl can humiliate herself on Reality TV and still get her fairy tale ending
Kate O’Keeffe: There you go. Thank you, Jane Austen. She’s probably rolling in her grave right now. That’s the first line from, well it’s a doctored version of the first line of Pride and Prejudice, of course.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, of course everybody, knows that phrase about being knows that phrase universally acknowledged, don’t they?
Kate O’Keeffe: Universally. Exactly, exactly.
Jenny Wheeler: Now, I also noticed there’s another recurring theme here. Quite a lot of your heroines are in their late twenties, and at that cusp of deciding they’ve got to get serious about relationships, they might have spent their twenties going for all the wrong men, and at 28, 29, they suddenly think they look around them and their friends are getting married.
It’s our “Gen X’ story – Kate O’Keeffe
And so quite a number of your heroines are at that stage of life. Is there something that particularly appeals to you about that stage of life?
Kate O’Keeffe: I think it’s because that’s my generation. I’m generation X and a lot of us went through that. at that time, and I really feel that, there are difference between differences between generations, but I don’t think humans fundamentally change. and I think there’s possibly less social pressure on people to be, not necessarily married, but certainly settled down and have their lives in order by the time they turn 30.
It’s probably a little later now. but certainly my generation, I felt like I needed the career. I needed the relationship I needed. House, like I felt like I, needed that by the time I turned 30. And if I didn’t have those things, I didn’t have some of those things at 30, I felt like I was, uh, behind the eight ball. So that’s it’s a key reason. I think It’s really very personal, I suppose, . I went through that at that age, late twenties, thinking, well, what have I done? I’d in fact moved back. I’d lived in the UK for a long time and I moved back to New Zealand, I was 27 and I feel that I had made.
Choices about relationships and travel and jobs and everything that just felt like it doesn’t matter. I, you know, this is not a big deal. I’ll go with this right now. And at that, at 27, I started feeling like, actually maybe I should be a little bit more focused on being serious about my life and the direction of my life.
Second Chance Cafe is coming
Jenny Wheeler: was that a hard transition to make back to New Zealand? After a long time in the uk?
Kate O’Keeffe: Yes, it was, it was really
Jenny Wheeler: I can really imagine it would be.
Kate O’Keeffe: Yeah, it, it really was because I’d lived in the UK for, at that stage six or seven years. I was actually born in the UK New Zealand parents. so in fact, and then I went back again, , I met my husband, we got married and he said, I’ve got a job in London. So off we went again.
So I spent 16 years of my life in the uk, New Zealand. Like I’ve learned to love New Zealand, but. Back, in my twenties, it did feel like a very different beast. after the excitement of London and also just being able to hop on a plane and go to another country for the weekend. It’s rather hard to do that from our little islands at the bottom of the world.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, that’s right. Look, tell us about the book that’s out next month. It’s the first in a new series called Second Chance Cafe, which also indicates that the heroines are going to be a little bit older and in points of their life, where they’re past their first love. The title of it, as I mentioned, is faking it with the Grmp, and it fits into quite a few of what they call the romance tropes, the things that people look for
Set in Seattle, with lingering thoughts of New Zealand
It’s grumpy, sunshine pairing and opposites track and fake relational romance. Is this quite a lot of things there that romance readers look for? Tell us about that.
Kate O’Keeffe: Well, faking it with the grump, as you mentioned, is the first book in a new series. And it’s a small town series set in the fictitious town that I’ve created in Washington state. my family actually lived in Seattle and Washington when I was a child. I was in boarding school in New Zealand, but I did get to go there.
and I’ve always had a soft spot for it. And I wanted to choose a place in the United States that was a little bit like New Zealand in some ways. And I think Washington. Is a bit more. it’s more rugged. It’s got a lot of, forestry, greenlands, and, so I was attracted to that as well.
Kate O’Keeffe: It’s set in a, a town that the main employer is the mill, which is a little bit like Napier, which is near where I live, that has, one of the main employers there is a mill. so there are some things that I can relate to, some common. it’s set around instead of friends.
I’ve gone for sisters this time, so I’ve got three sisters. And, as you’ve suggested with the Second Chance Cafe, that’s actually the name of the cafe that they all gravitate around. It’s owned by their aunt. and, so various things happen, like important things in people’s lives, in their sister’s lives happen at this cafe.
Fake It With The Grump – coming soon
This first book, the heroine of the book has followed, she’s put someone else before herself. Her whole life. She’s followed her high school sweetheart to LA because he has pursued his dream of becoming an actor. She’s actually a teacher and he’s had some success and basically the first sniff of success he drops her for somebody else, and she’s devastated because she’s changed her entire life to be with him.
So she moves home and that’s The first chapter of the book, and meets the hero, So her name is Harper, the hero is Christopher, and he’s a New York City,mergers and acquisitions lawyer who has been sent by his company to assess whether to buy the mill that this town basically hangs off.
So, we’ve got some conflicts straight up, between the two of them. So yeah, it’s a fun ride. I really enjoyed writing it and it’s written from two points of view. I write from Harper’s point of view as well as from Christopher’s point of view, which I don’t typically do in my books.
I’ve typically written just from the woman’s point of view. So it was more of a challenge in that respect. but a challenge I really enjoyed.
Success of NZ romance authors in the US
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great. it sounds, these stories, they have a kind of ring of Virgin River and, and Leeanna, Malcolm has got quite a few. You mentioned Wellington writers. I think Leanna is probably. One of the ones t Sorry it isn’t Malcolm. I’m not getting the right name.
Kate O’Keeffe: Leeanna Morgan.
Jenny Wheeler: Morgan. Sorry. Leeanna Morgan. That’s right. Yeah. Her stories set in Montana have got that kind of flavor too, haven’t they? Small town feel. She’s doing very well in romance.
Kate O’Keeffe: Absolutely. She’s a wonderful writer and has had a lot of success. She writes, more traditional contemporary romance than I do, so
Jenny Wheeler: Yep. They’re not quite so romcom. That’s
Kate O’Keeffe: Well, no, and mine’s always injected with humor. so that’s, and that’s part of my brand. It’s part of who I am. It’s part of what I like to read and to write.
But, yeah, Leanna is definitely doing extremely well and, and she’s an excellent writer.
Kate O’Keeffe’s wide career before writing
Turning away a bit from the books and looking a little bit at. Your wider career. you mentioned that you had quite a few years in England, The things you did before you decided to settle down to writing, have they contributed to your writing career? Have they helped you in any way?
Kate O’Keeffe: Well, absolutely. Of course everything informs my writing, all my experiences and, various conversations with people. I have a lot of conversations with people who ask me if I’m gonna put them in a book . The answer is possibly what? What you say. so I had no idea when I went to, I studied at Canterbury.
I studied, my first degree was art history and English literature. I had no clue what I was going to do with it. I just loved studying them. and for years I never used my English degree and now I do. So that’s worked out nicely. I was a teacher at one stage as well immediately. For becoming a writer.
And, I do have some teachers in my books. In fact, Harper, as I mentioned in faking It with the Grmp is a teacher. And, I’ve called on some of my experience in writing scenes in the classroom. so yeah, absolutely I worked in sales for years and years as well. so some of my characters have the kinds of jobs that I’ve had.
Researching deeper topics sometimes
Jenny Wheeler: Great
Kate O’Keeffe: it’s useful to have a varied career if any of your listeners are wondering where, whether to become a writer, do a whole lot of different things, travel a lot, and then you can.
Jenny Wheeler: And you mentioned about talking to lots of people, and then I’m asking you if you’re going to put them in their book, do you consciously research, I mean, do you go out and look for people to talk to them about certain topics?
Kate O’Keeffe: Occasionally, but typically no. typically it’s just a mishmash in my brain, for one of my books that dealt with, fertility issues, which is actually the. Third book in the Love Manner series. it was slightly different from my other books, but it was a topic that’s close to my heart and I wanted to discuss.
I actually interviewed, a couple of people in that because there were gaps in my knowledge and it was because I was dealing with a, more serious topic. But anybody that I do, Ask specific information of, I always acknowledge them at the backs of my books. I’ve had a few conversations about various things
Being a do-it-all indie can be overwhelming
Kate O’Keeffe: I’ve got one friend who was a doctor for years, and I had a character who was training to become a doctor. So I need to pick her brain over coffee several times.
if you could think of one thing that was a key thing that might be the secret of your success, what would it be?
Kate O’Keeffe: Oh gosh, that’s a hard one. I would say perseverance is a big part of it. I think, you can give up quite easily. In this game, especially being an independently published author, it’s not easy. You don’t have anybody doing anything for you, not until you earn some money. I’ve actually got a couple of assistants at the moment and I have somebody who does my marketing, two people, two organizations, do my marketing as well.
But for a long time I did everything myself, and that’s quite overwhelming. I remember sitting in a, a conference listening to a speech on, or a workshop. Authorpreneurship they called it, and all the things you needed to do from a website to your marketing, to having a social media presence, newsletter, writing the books, you know, all of that.
What would Kate change if anything?
And I just thought, oh my gosh, I can’t do this Isn’t, this isn’t insane. but if you, you take it, it’s like anything. You take it with bite sized chunks and you work your way through it and you just keep going. And I think if you have a passion for it, like I just have an absolute passion for books, for reading.
For writing, for listening to the voices in my head and, and I fe I feel like it’s an absolute gift that I’ve been given that I can have a career out of doing something I love to do. And I don’t love all of it, but I certainly love the writing and that’s the key for me.
Jenny Wheeler: yeah. That’s wonderful. Looking back down the line of your career as a writer, if there is one thing that you would change at this stage now with the benefit of hindsight, what would it be?
Kate O’Keeffe: it would definitely be to do more craft courses, more learn my craft more before I put anything out there. So I didn’t really do that. I just thought, you know what, I’ve got a degree in literature. I’ve read a lot. I’ve studied a few books on how to write, you know, are we fine? Which is just famous last words.
You don’t know what you don’t know. So I would hone in, on that. I would’ve joined romance writers in New Zealand. earlier as well. I didn’t even know the organization existed because there’s such a wealth of knowledge in there and most writers are very generous with their time, their knowledge, their understanding.
Learning the writing craft important
So the Wellington chapter I belong to, before I moved to Hawkes Bay, obviously, and they were they were fantastic. There were lots of really generous and successful authors in that group that were very helpful to me.
Jenny Wheeler: Yeah. You mentioned craft books. Have you got any that you particularly value now or would like to recommend
Kate O’Keeffe: I wish you’d asked me that earlier because I could have had a list of them.
Jenny Wheeler: just came into my mind when you were talking about it.
Kate O’Keeffe: Well, I mean, I actually, I couldn’t tell you the names, but I actually read a couple of books initially that were How to Write Chicklit. I thought that’s what I was going to write initially. And my books are quite chicklit, they’re more romcom these days.
But, I couldn’t tell you who they would by, but one book I use every single time I sit down to write as the Emotion Thesaurus there are several in that series actually that are very useful, that like can help describe settings, that kind of thing. LearI’ll be absolutely stumped and I find like any writer, I overuse phrases and a good editor will pick that up for me.
Learning the words we all over use
Not making that mistake in the first instance, to describe how someone’s feeling. I have a lot of raised eyebrows and it’s like a raised eyebrow can mean all sorts of things. So being more specific. Yeah. So I use that book absolutely every time.
Jenny Wheeler: I write hysterical mysteries and the very first one I did, I think the editor came back and said, do you realize you’ve used the word looked over 200 times? I was mortified and I went back and, but often that’s the way I was. Portraying the communication when it was nonverbal.
It was just the way they looked at each other. And now I actually go through all my manuscripts and l look at the duplication of the word looked and find alternative ways to say it. It’s just something that, you know, I slip into and then I have to get a lot more careful about what I’m doing.
Kate O’Keeffe: I think we’re all absolutely guilty of doing that as authors. II had several words. I used the word ‘just’ constantly. and as I mentioned the raising eyebrows. Raising eyebrows and rolling eyes. My characters do that all the time and I have to be very aware of that. They’ve probably got vertigo by now.
Favoutire tropes – like enemies to lovers
Jenny Wheeler: One of the authors that’s in the episode on Best of Binge Reading that I’m actually going to be publishing today, the Top Seven for the year, Karen Swan. She writes very successful UK based chick litty, romantic fiction, I suppose you’d call it She says she thinks it’s funny that her books are described as romance because they’ve always got another storyline as well.
But she says she has to have the other plot line because she just can’t have too many people just staring into each other’s eyes.
Kate O’Keeffe: I know, but with a good romance you always get lots of conflict. So there might be some staring into each other’s eyes, but then there’s always other drama, right?
Jenny Wheeler: That’s right. And maybe sometimes the steering isn’t particularly loving either.
Kate O’Keeffe: Let’s hope not. Enemies to lovers. One of my favorite tropes.
Jenny Wheeler: Yeah. You’ve mentioned that you’ve got a Facebook. Before we came online, you mentioned that you’ve got a private Facebook group, so I know that you love, relating to your readers. So tell us about how your readers can find you online and, what sorts of things you are approachable about.
Kate’s Cupids – a private Facebook group
Kate O’Keeffe: Well, the, the private Facebook group is called Kate’s Cupids, and it’s, I have a link at the end of my books to it, I don’t advertise it because it’s just for people who love my books and want to talk to me and talk about my books or other books we talk about. I mean, we, we talk about reality tv, , we talk about movies, we talk about anything and everything.
Lots of book stuff. but all you have to do is find Kate’s Cupids if you’re interested and. Answer a couple of questions and chances are I’ll let you in. We do have some rules about being, positive and, inclusive, et cetera in the group, but everybody is, I’ve, I really have a lovely, lovely group of people in Kate’s Cupids, and it’s grown just organically over the last year.
It’s only about 450, 460 people, but, I adore them and I actually miss it when I don’t have chats with them. that’s something that I’ve really enjoyed, nurture. over the last year. I’m also on Instagram, Cato Keith writer. and I’ve got a Facebook presence as well at Cato Keef author, and I’m trying TikTok.
I’m new on TikTok and I can’t say I love it, but I make videos. I quite enjoy making videos and I stick them up there and I think I’m Kate o Keefe writer there as well. So yeah, I’m kind of everywhere and I’ve got a newsletter.
Wherre you can find Kate online
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great and people can go to your website and join that newsletter as well.
Kate O’Keeffe: Yes, and you get a free romcom when you do it. And there’s actually also on the bonus page, I’ve got a couple of extra epilogues for some of my books on there as well. If you want to read what happens to the characters in the future.
Jenny Wheeler: Oh yes. I think I read, I think I read Noah. I, I thought that was great fun actually.
Kate O’Keeffe: Oh good. Thank you. Well, that’s from, never fall for your backup. No, sorry. Never fall for your one that got away.
Jenny Wheeler: the one that got away. That’s right. Yeah. And that was interesting cuz the whole book was in Tabitha’s point of view, so it was quite a sort of little lure to, to just hear a little bit from Noah’s point of view right at the end. Because all the way through, you didn’t quite know, he didn’t, because you didn’t get his POV (Point Of View) you didn’t know some of the disclosures about how much he was actually plotting this whole thing and how much it was just totally con, coincidental,
Kate O’Keeffe: Well, that’s, that’s the beauty of writing only one point of view. But, yeah, but you know that I’ve had feedback over the years from readers who said they would like more from the male point of view in my books. So that’s actually one of the reasons why I’ve now written this new series. faking it with the grum, as I mentioned, is written from the two points of view.
Single viewpoint preserves the mystery…
So you do understand, but it presents new challenges because with. With only, sorry, with only one person’s point of view. there’s the mystery around that other character, the love, interest, character. You don’t know really what they’re thinking. All, you know, is what they’re saying and doing from her point of view.
So, you can disguise a lot. so Yeah, which is fun.
Jenny Wheeler: Hey, and did that feedback come through your private Facebook group as well? I mean, is that.
Kate O’Keeffe: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And occasionally I, so I like to survey people. I don’t do it a huge amount, but I did it in my newsletter as well as in Kate’s Coopers, and. Resoundingly people said, Rita said, I think it was 99% of people said yes, write the two points of view. a number of people were like, I don’t care what you write, just keep writing.
Which was nice. And I think I had maybe two people come back to me and say, Nope, just keep doing what you’re doing. I felt like it was a fairly clear decision for me. with the feedback.
Kate’s books may be seen on small screen soon
Jenny Wheeler: that sort of reader feedback is really good. That’s very good to hear and be willing to listen to too.
Kate O’Keeffe: Well, let’s hope they like the book when it comes out on the 14th of March. Let’s hope they read it like it. Give it lots of five star reviews then. Then I’ll know. It’s all been worthwhile.
Jenny Wheeler: . You mentioned Helen Fielding and the Bridget Jones diary. Of course, chicklets become , very popular and with Netflix gobbling up content, your work, would be ideal for the small screen or the big screen. Have you had any approaches in that regard?
Kate O’Keeffe: Well, that’s very kind of you to mention. and yes, I have in fact, I was approached last year, by a company. I initially didn’t believe it because it just seemed too good to be true, but, Long story short, I’ve signed five of my books with a Hollywood based production company, who are looking to, make them into movies or a TV series.
So they’re the Cozy Cottage Cafe series, which is based in Auckland, and that is one last first date through the four, last first dates. And they want, they’re trying to sell that as a, tv. And then I have another title I co-authored with an American author, and that is called One-Way Ticket. And that already has a screenplay and that’s a standalone story, standalone novel, about two women who one’s a runaway bride and the other one sees this bride, thinks it’s a mirage running through an airport lounge.
If you enjoyed Kate you might also enjoy Leanna Morgan…
If you enjoyed Kate you might also enjoy
Leeanna Morgan is a USA Today best-selling author of Montana sweet romance, with over a million downloads of her books and a following on BookBub of more than 53,000. This former librarian runs her highly successful – and lucrative – book business from her peaceful home in Wellington, New Zealand.
Next time on Binge Reading – Two weeks from now
and they end. Sitting down and discussing how terrible their lives are and they swap lives. And that’s the premise for that story. And I think it does have cinematic quality, if I could say so myself. so yeah, so it’s in the mix. It’s a long shot is what I always say to people. But it is a shot and it’s quite exciting.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s wonderful. Kate, that’s a great place to finish. Thank you so much.
Kate O’Keeffe: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me here. It’s been really fun chatting to you, Jenny.
Jenny Wheeler: Next week on binge reading. Diana Giovanni NATSO and her wonderful historical fiction. Antoinette’s sister you’ve heard of Marie Antoinette I’m sure. But have you heard of her sister Charlotte?
And when its sister expertly brings to life, one of history’s most formidable, European monarchs. A woman who appended social conventions for the betterment of her people as the queen of Naples and who graciously lived and loved on her own terms. That’s Antoinette’s sister fortnightly from now on. So Antoinette’s sister in two weeks on the joys of binge reading.
That’s it for today and happy reading.
Kate O'Keeffe says
Thank you so much for having me on your fabulous show, Jenny! It was a lot of fun.
Jenny Wheeler says
I enjoyed it too Kate!! And thanks for spreading the love with the giveaway!!