Guest & Contest: Allison Knight

small portrait Allison Knight (2)Every author I know finds his/her way into the publishing business in a different manor. My journey began with just about every mistake in the book. Believe it or not, I’m a Home Ec teacher, back when they had such things, with a major in Chemistry not English. I hated English and my college English teachers deplored my misuse of the language. I never earned more than a ‘C’ in any of my English classes. My dream was to be a test cook for one of the big companies like Betty Crocker, but I didn’t want to move far from my home. I was never offered a job so I settled on teaching.

How on earth did I end up writing historical romance novels? I love history and a story with a happy ending. It started when I was very young. One afternoon, my paternal grandfather gathered all of his grandchildren into his study and began the story of his life. My father was just as good at telling stories, about our English relatives, about the Irish descendants and how they came to this country. My mother got into the act, talking about her Welsh family and the glass blowing industry that brought them to the US. So, you see, I was immersed in history from an early age. Even then, my favorite pastime was reading, the kind of books with a happy ending. So the dye was cast. History with a happy ending.

But teaching, marriage and children all came first. I didn’t start to write novels until my children were teenagers. They was too much to do and of course, I wasn’t about to sacrifice my reading time.

Once my youngest was in high school, I thought why not, and I started a historical romance about a town in South Carolina which had just been named sister city to a town close to my birthplace.

I wrote a 600 page manuscript which I immediately sent off to the ‘President’ of a major publishing company and the only mistake I didn’t make was sending the book to a company that published romances. The book was rejected and returned, at their expense because I didn’t know I was supposed to send money to return the book. However, the rejection was beautiful, if such a thing is possible. The president was encouraging and told me to keep writing even though they couldn’t use the book.

The next two years were filled with anguish. I bought how to books, enrolled in a writing class, took a mail order class, and learned the business. I investigated companies, organizations, visited book stores, and spent time rewriting that manuscript, all the while submitting my novel proposal and being rejected over and over again.

I don’t think a selling author will ever forget the day they find out their baby finally has a home. I know I never will. I was offered a three book contract with the first sale. Talk about elation. It was fabulous. But my learning wasn’t finished. After four books, I found I couldn’t sell a thing. It seems I still had a great deal more to learn. Finally, after seven long years, things began to click and I started selling my work.

I’m still learning. That’s the glorious thing about writing. You are never too old to learn more. So, yes, I still read how-to’s, visit book stores, investigate places online, learn as much as I can about the digital market and publishers who are garnering success in the world of the ‘net’. I write because I have to write, writing fictional stories about characters who lived at a different time but always with a happy ending. But I sell what I write because I’ve taken the time to learn — to write, the industry, the market and the kind of readers who like my kind of books.

Writing is a job, and like any other job, if you want to be good, you have to learn how to do it well, and that means all of it, just not splashing words onto a computer screen. After all the old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ still applies.

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Award winning author, Allison Knight claims she’s married to the world’s greatest husband because he’s her greatest supporter and works with her on all her projects. The mother of four children, she retired from teaching to move south to warmer climes. She has written and published nineteen romances for both paperback and digital  publishers. Her third medieval romance from her ‘song’ series and a short story are available from Champagne Books, Inc.

Because she can never quite step out of teaching mode, she blogs often sharing the knowledge she gained writing and publishing in the romance genre. She also loves to talk  about the growing digital market.

You can find her at:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Guest & Contest: Allison Knight

  1. Jeanne Miro says:

    Hi Allison!

    I loved when you talked about being in school and teaching Home Ec! I came from a family of seamstresses but I guess because I was the youngest in our family by the time I was born both my Grandmother and mother were too busy sewing to teach me! I ended up learning how to sew in High School probably at the same time you would have been taking it.

    I was fortunate that both my sons went to High School during an age of “equality” because they had to take it as well. I’m sure you remember in our day and age that only the “girls” had Home Ec while the male population were more likely in a class for carpentry or automotive repair. Since computers were “new” at the time I also made them take typing – I told them they were learning “key boarding” to help them in the future.

    I love your stories because if I’m reading a historical romance I want two things – a happy ending and to learn about the history in the place and time period it is set!

    Since my husband loves reading history and historical fiction it leads to some interesting conversations around the dinner table. Both of our “research” came in handy when we visited London and Scotland on a trip I earned at work. We had a wonderful time exploring all the sites that we had read about and found so many local people who wanted to share with us information not found anywhere else.

    I noticed on your site that you have your first contemporary, Betrayed Bride, coming out this Spring. What made you decide to change genres and will the characters be influenced by their ancestors in the story?

    PS: Did you ever get your first story set in South Carolina published? My younger son lives there and we love to visit!

    • Jeanne,

      Yes to your question about the first book. “Willow Embrace” came out from Kensington in 1989, And, yep, that was years ago, and it’s what started my career in writing fiction.
      I wrote the contemporary for a change in pace. We’ll see if it works. In the meantime I’m back at the last of the ‘song’ books, this one about the healer in the family.

      And I remember well the girls in Home Ec and the boys in mechanics. A shame we don’t teach more of both today.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. Joye says:

    Since you are a Home Economics teacher, do you put in your books descriptions of the foods and dinners your characters attend? Just wondering.
    I will add you to my TBR list.

  3. Thanks Rose and Ute. And Joyce, I’ve had a lot of fun writing about the food some of my characters eat. The first medieval was interesting and the research mind boggling. Think about it. They didn’t have wax paper, plastic wrap, or containers. No microwaves either, and way back paper was a luxury. They used cloth, which surprised me, and they caught what they ate when they traveled. You can tell I love the research.

  4. Anne says:

    Your perseverance and interest in writing is wonderful. I enjoyed learning about your interest in history and the stories that you were told. How wonderful to write all those great novels. Best wishes.

  5. JoAnne says:

    Well Allison you actually had an interesting journey to become a published author. I love historical novels and will have to look for yours.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. JackieW says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog today. I was a Home Economics teacher too. I was very sad to see those classes dropped from the curriculum after I retired. I think young people are missing out by not having these classes. I would enjoy reading your books.

    • JoAnne says:

      Our middle schoolers take home ec although it’s not called that anymore for a trimester usually in 2 of their 3 years. I have a son, now 21, that enjoyed the sewing and cooking class he took. Of course for sewing we bought a kit from the teacher and he made a jester’s hat one time and a fluffy college football the next.
      I have fond memories of taking those classes too.

  7. Beckey says:

    Thanks for sharing your adventure in becoming a published author…

    Enjoy historical books…

    Thanks again

    BeckeyWhiteATgmailDOTcom

  8. pc says:

    Allison you’re a wonderful role model and congratulations on the not always smooth but successful writing path! I will definitely check out your books…thanks for sharing your personal journey!

  9. Nice to know I’m not the only one who has made mistakes along the way! I don’t like to think of them as mistakes so much as educational moments. Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey!

  10. Diane Sallans says:

    I love a Medieval Romance – they are certainly not as prevalent as Regencies. So I’m always keeping my eye out for them – I didn’t know about this series.

  11. Ashley A says:

    Hi Allison,
    I really enjoyed your interview. I was wondering what it was like to be a Home Ec teacher?

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