Sign In

An Interview with Kate Rothwell upon receiving an offer of representation.

Kate Rothwell (majakaro on QT) has signed with agent Ellen Pepus of Signature Literary Agency.

How long have you been writing?
Fiction--about seven years nearly full time. (I have kids at home.)
Is this your first book?
Nope. In 2004 I had two books published by Kensington, one's out of print but both are still listed at Amazon. I published those as Kate Rothwell. Since then I've had a few books and novellas published at Samhain and Ellora's Cave and two novellas at Simon and Schuster (through EC) under the name of Summer Devon.
How long have you been working on this book?
The one Ellen liked--about two months. (Also after I signed with Ellen another agent expressed interest) I tend to write three chapters/fifty pages and a synopsis and see how that flies. I sold my first book on a partial so I know it works for me. I know I can work under deadline, too. Actually, after years of working for magazines and papers, that's how I work best. I also have about five finished manuscripts. In fact, I just sold one a couple of days ago to Samhain. Ellen liked it but didn't think it would be an fast sell to NYC.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I have a degree in communications from Hood College. I wrote non-fiction (articles, brochures etc) for years. Most of my on-the-job fiction writing training comes from reading, going to writer's meetings and being part of crit groups. I used to be a literary fiction sort of a writer and had a couple of short stories out in serious fiction magazines (like the Monocacy Valley Review). Now I write romance.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I was extremely disciplined for years but not in the last year or so. It's been a downer, not selling to New York after the high of my first two books. I do try to get at least five pages a day written.
How many times did you re-write/edit your novel?
I tend to write fast and then go back and fill in the gaps. I let it sit for a while if I can and then do some more layering and editing.
Did you have beta readers for your novel?
I used to belong to crit groups, but these days I just have a couple of people. My favorite beta reader is now an editor and she doesn't have time for people who aren't her Official Writers (and because we're friends I can't be one of hers), the biddy. I often bug Teresa Bodwell and Bonnie Dee to look at my work.
Did you outline your novel, or do you write from the hip?
I'm a combo seat of the pants and planner. Not too much planning or I get bored but I do write a synopsis before I write the book--I hadn't always done that.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I was with an agent for a couple of years and though I'd recommend her to anyone, it was time for us to part ways. No, it really was a mutual decision. (For once I wasn't fired!) That was in October and I started the serious hunt in December. I think I got about 40 rejections. A lot of those were from agents asked to see more than one story. I got versions of the note about "like your voice, but not that story". So I'd trot out another partial. And another. And another. I think I showed Kristin Nelson about seven before one of us said "Jeez, enough all ready." Probably she did.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I wanted someone who wasn't brand new and I wanted someone who knows about my genre. Other than that? Ummmmmmmmmmm....errrrrr. I wanted someone who wanted me. It's a small world and the gossip is pretty easy to find. Ellen is new, but she has worked for another agency so she does know what to expect.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
A few agents rep friends of mine and I'd mention the friend. Other than that, no, not really. I did pay attention to what the agent actually liked! Your site is great for that.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Do multiple submissions but don't try to hide the fact that you're querying other agents. If you have to wait for a single answer at a time . . . drip. . . drip. . .oy, it's horrible! And if you finish one manuscript, start thenext. Don't pin all your hopes on one book or one agent.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
It's fairly worthless because it's very specific to what I've done as a writer. But here's the basic idea:

Dear Agent Who Will Probably Not Even Bother to Write a Form Rejection, (Not using real names here.)

I hope you'll consider taking me on as a client.

I write and publish under two names, Kate Rothwell and Summer Devon. As Kate, I wrote Somebody Wonderful and Somebody to Love, two award-winning historicals with Kensington. Somebody Wonderful was a Romantic Times reviewer's choice and finalist for best first historical.

As Summer Devon, I write paranormal erotic romance for Ellora's Cave and Samhain publishing, with two of my Ellora's Cave novellas going into print with Pocket Books. I just found out one of my novellas is a finalist in this year's EPPIEs. [I doubt agents know the EPPIEs but I was pretty excited and threw it in anyway.]

The Mad Baron is a combination of both Kate and Summer's writing styles, an erotic historical romance.

Set in Victorian England, the story is a twist on the madwoman in the attic--this time it's a madman locked away. [with two short paragraphs that read like the back of the book inserted here. I've heard you shouldn't write more than two paragraphs. I believe it, too.]

I also have several other completed novels including one historical (the requested full is at Harlequin) and another paranormal.

Until a couple of months ago, I was with another agent, whom I love and with whom I amicably parted because I write several books a year and she didn't have time to deal with my output. [basically true, and I did give out her name if they asked. It's hard to lie in the small world of romance writers.]