Favorite Fall Reading: Kelly O’Connor McNees

I’m in Bellevue, Washington for the weekend for the Emerald City Writer’s Conference and so I’ve asked the talented Kelly O’Connor McNees to be my featured author this week on my blog.

Kelly is an amazing writer.   As most of you know, I love historical settings, especially in the US.  Having majored in American Studies at UCLA, I fell in love with Kelly’s debut novel, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on her newest, In Need of a Good Wife.  I was so excited about Kelly’s October 2nd release that I begged my Penguin publicist to help me get an advanced copy so I could read it early, and she obliged.   I’m thrilled she did.  Kelly’s stories capture my imagination and sweep me away.

Here’s the back cover blurb from her new novel:

For Clara Bixby, brokering mail-order brides is a golden business opportunity—and a desperately needed chance to start again. If she can help New York women find husbands in a far-off Nebraska town, she can build an independent new life away from her own loss and grief. 

Clara’s ambitions are shared by two other women, who are also willing to take any risk. Quiet immigrant Elsa hopes to escape her life of servitude and at last shape her own destiny. And Rowena, the willful, impoverished heiress, jumps at the chance to marry a humble stranger and repay a heartbreaking debt. All three struggle to find their true place in the world, leaving behind who they were in order to lay claim to the person they want to be. Along the way, each must face unexpected obstacles and dangerous choices, but they also help to forge a nation unlike any that came before.

I loved it!!   So now, without further delay, help me welcome Kelly O’Connor McNees to the JaneBlog!

*Kelly, let’s talk writing.  I’m fascinated by a writer’s process and would love to know more about yours.  Do you consider yourself a pantser (go with the flow writer), or do you prefer to outline and plot extensively before you sit down to write?

I used to be a pantser, but now I am a dedicated outliner. I think a lot about what I want to write before I start, make lots of notes on the characters, and think about where I want each one to end up. The outline is loose–many times I end up deviating from my plan–but it really helps to have an idea of where I want to go when I sit down each day to write.

*Do you have a writing schedule or any writing rituals to help you achieve your daily writing quota?

I used to have a wonderful schedule that worked very well for me: Writing first thing in the morning with a big cup of coffee, staring out the window when I needed to, drifting through my day. And then I had a baby! So now my ritual looks more like a crazy person running back and forth between her desk and the crib, jotting things down while she plays on the floor, doing the dishes in an exhausted stupor and coming up with an idea, lying down in bed at night and drifting off before I can read a page… writing moms know what I’m talking about!

*What’s your take on writing in this genre as far as ebooks are concerned?  Have you taken to reading books on an eReader or do you mostly still prefer print books?

I have a Nook and I really like reading on it, especially when I am traveling. That said, I do love to hold a book in my hands and be able to flip back and forth easily among the pages. I think (hope) there will be a place for both formats going forward!

*Name five items sitting on your desk right now.

A stack of books about 19th century northern Michigan, my dictionary, my computer, a half-empty cup of coffee, and a box of cheez-its. I have a problem.

*What was your first job?

When I was 14 I worked in a bakery/candy store and learned how to make all sorts of delicious baked goods, how to work with chocolate, how to make eclairs. I think I made $3.35 per hour. But knowing how to make good custard is a serious life skill.

*Can you tell us the title of the last book you absolutely loved, loved, loved?

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey


Thank you, Kelly, for talking to us today and I really appreciate your time as I know how busy you are!

Readers, you can learn more about Kelly at her website – www.kellyoconnormcnees.com and more great news, you have a chance to win Kelly’s brand new novel, In Need of a Good Wife, by commenting below.  Because I love this time of year and want to spoil one of you, along with Kelly’s novel, the winner shall also receive a signed copy of The Good Woman, a really cute apron, yummy Fall baking treats, some kitchen baking utensils, a Starbucks gift card and more, more, more!  For a chance to win, share with me in the comment section your Halloween plans and you’re entered.  Contest runs through Oct 31st and I’ll announce the winner of Thursday, Nov 1st.  Please check back to see if you won as two of my winners from my last contest never claimed their prize and I’d hate for you to win and not get something fun!!

Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll be back soon!


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