Wife, mother, daughter, lover of all things literary, Kim Greer has been a storyteller her entire life. From her early days narrating school plays to penning short stories as an angsty pre-teen, Kim’s passion for connecting audiences with a good read has bled into all facets of her life. A journalist by training, Kim holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Virginia and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University. She began her communications career as a business reporter for The Poughkeepsie Journal and later joined Crain Communications, an international publisher of business/trade magazines. In her role with Crain, Kim was also a periodic contributor to Advertising Age.
After leaving journalism, Kim created and led strategic marketing and communications for several global corporations, helping them to tell their stories and brand their services. In 2008, she launched a boutique marketing consultancy serving clients primarily in the professional services, IT, defense, logistics and aerospace arenas. Concurrently, as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, she designed and taught PR and communications courses for the school’s award-winning graduate program.
Kim lives in northern Virginia with her fabulous husband of 26 years, the youngest of their three sons, her 91-year-old father, and their Rottweiler puppy, Oba.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Thanks so much for sharing my story, Jimmetta! I caught the writing bug at 12 when my English teacher assigned a series of short stories to our class. It was fun, memorable, and I realized that I wasn’t half bad at it. It also didn’t hurt that those stories helped me to write my way to an A for the semester! Even so, it wasn’t until I joined the editorial staff at my college newspaper that I knew without doubt that I wanted to pursue writing as a career. Whether through journalism or fiction writing, I love telling stories that entertain and inform.
I’ve always loved playing with words; like colors to an artist, words help writers paint the visual interest that brings stories to life. That’s the challenge and ultimate pleasure for me. The craftier I get with my words, the more enjoyment I get from the process. I think, though, as the world gets busier and messages come at us from all directions, we don’t always take the time to appreciate the beauty and power that words can have. It’s frustrating that good writing isn’t always appreciated on its own merits. You’re often judged on how quickly a reader can consume it, how commercial your product is, or how closely it aligns with the expected and popular storylines that typically define a genre. That’s a barrier I hope to break as I pursue life as an Indie author.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
My first novel is called Masked Intent, and it’s available on Amazon. The book follows the new romance between a divorced mother — an Afro-Latina — and a younger man, born in Colombia, both of whom have been damaged by their parents and by their previous relationships. When they decide to take their relationship beyond friendship, neither of them is ready to accept the things they start to see in themselves. They’re emotionally scarred and immature as each expects the other to live up to the fantasies they’ve spun about the other. When they realize that it takes more than dreams and wishes to make a relationship work, things get interesting. They’ll both need to recognize how the lies they’ve come to believe about themselves are the biggest threats to their intimacy and each other.
More broadly, the book takes a deep dive into how we rely on inauthentic personas — or masks — to guide us through our interpersonal relationships. Using a humanized version of the Truth as its narrator, Masked Intent is a timely and relevant story that asks a key question: what does it matter how many followers, likes, and up votes we have if we no longer recognize the person we see in the mirror?
To learn more about me, my projects, future books, or to have a look at my blog, visit https://kimgreerwrites.com. I’m also building a community of readers on Facebook. You can find me there at https://facebook.com/kimgreerwrites.
3) What projects are you currently working on?
Each week, I try to grow my blog, Things I’m Working On, as a way to connect with new and existing readers. It’s also a way to offload the many, many ideas inside my head! I’m also hard at work on the sequel to my debut novel. I plan to publish Intents + Purposes in early 2022. While writing these books, I’ve fallen in love with two of the supporting characters, so I’ve been playing around with some of the scenes and dialogue that will become a part of their standalone novels as well.
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
As writers, we should always set new targets and challenges for ourselves if we hope to grow in the craft. Once upon a time, my ultimate goal was to see my byline on the front page of whatever publication I wrote for. Once I met that milestone consistently, it still seemed to fall short of feeling like I’d achieved something significant. That’s probably because I knew I wanted to write books, but even that wasn’t enough. I needed to do it on my own terms, so I set out not only to write a novel, but also to launch a publishing company. I’m taking a moment to enjoy the feeling of climbing this mountain solo, but I also realize that I’ve only just cleared the first peak. For now, I’m happy to have conceived and self-published a genre-bending novel that I hope entertains while provoking deeper thoughts along the way. However my first book is received, I’ve taken the first steps towards achieving my dreams, and that’s the ultimate achievement for me. I’m excited to continue my journey as an independent writer. I hope to build up this business so that I can step fully into publishing full time.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
Based on my experiences, writing is regarded as one of the soft skills that everyone believes he or she possesses — whether or not they do it well. So, three decades into this career, I take rejection in stride, consider the criticism on its merits, and adjust (or not) as necessary. You have to be true to yourself and your art. Period. Full stop.
This may sound surprising, but I never faced rejection until I left the newsroom and became a corporate communicator. When I was pursuing my master’s in journalism, all of our professors were well practiced at giving strong, useful criticism without seeking to break your spirit. Maybe that was because we were kindred spirits united in our passion to uncover the truth, and I found this to be true in the newsroom as well. When I began my career in corporate communications, it was a completely different story. I’ve found myself embedded inside consulting firms and law firms for much of my career, and in these environments, the corporate writers have to learn to handle rejection, an unending stream of revisions, and “happy-to-glad” changes — those edits that aren’t vital to the substance of what’s written but are rather a matter of preference or a function of the person’s position relative to yours. Over the years, I came to see that such feedback generally says more about the reviewer than the writer, and once you can wrap your head around that, you simply move on to the next project. It’s not that I disregard rejection; I think there’s something to learn from every negative review that comes your way. But you have to keep the faith in yourself and in your art, make allowances for doubts, and press on relentlessly.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
I thrive on deadline pressure and tend to do my best work when trying to beat the clock. That’s probably why I don’t like to set a strict schedule for my writing. I don’t set daily word counts because I prefer to let the words flow as they come. That means you need to be prepared for whenever the muse strikes, so it’s not unusual to see me texting ideas to myself or recording voice memos to capture interesting thought streams at odd times of the day or night. Though I don’t outline my writing per se, I create a rough structure that I allow to evolve with my characters and storylines. It just feels more organic to me. Using that process, it took me a year to complete my first novel. That included about six rewrites and edits as well. Now that I know what it’s like to tackle and complete long-form works, I expect to be able to cut the time it takes to complete a novel in half.
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
I can’t think that way! Ageism is real, but I’m not so certain it’s as much a factor in publishing as it is in the corporate world. Look at J.K. Rowling and E.L. James. Both were over 40 when they first published. At 54, having just published my first novel, I feel energized, renewed, and excited finally to tackle the projects and embrace the passions I’ve set aside until now. Of course, I’ve been writing for far longer — I just haven’t been writing for me. I think that’s the key. Writers should write to express some portion of themselves or they risk losing the passion that should be present on the page. I don’t know how successful I’d have been as a novelist before now. I’d have tried to conform to some standard or convention that might have sold books, but I don’t know whether it would have satisfied my soul, and that’s the greatest reward a writer can find on this journey. It makes us vulnerable and sensitive, and that’s the stuff you leave on the page that sets your work apart.
8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
I’ve been an avid reader since I was a child thanks to my mother, who was an English teacher. She, of course, read to me a lot when I was little, so it became something that I wanted to be able to do on my own. As soon as I was able, I always had my head in a book.
The first book that truly grabbed and tugged on my emotions was The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCollough, which is probably the source of my mini-obsession with romance novels. It’s also the first book that taught me that the book generally is better than any movie it may inspire! I also love the emotional shifts and internal exploration of Crime and Punishment thanks to its dark commentary on society and humanity. More recently, I’ve fallen in love with Saint by Sierra Simone, whose prose is as beautiful and emotional as the underlying messages/commentaries in her work. Though she may be my favorite of the moment, I tend to be fickle when it comes to my go-to authors. I get impatient when an author’s work begins to feel cookie-cutter or commercialized, which is a huge downside of genre fiction. That’s why I’ve learned to mix it up in order to avoid being disappointed.
Because I’ve been working on my own projects, I haven’t been reading quite as much. However, I’ll be taking time in the next week or so to begin Courtland O.K Smith’s The One Behind the Psychologist.
9) The Pandemic was a challenging time for some writers and creative individuals but also for others it was time that they needed to focus on their creative passions. Which side of that spectrum do you fall on? Are there any lessons or nuggets of wisdom that you gained during the Pandemic that help you within your writing career? Did the quarantine stifle your creativity or did it make you even more driven to get things done?
The Pandemic definitely inspired my creativity to come out and play. Sheltering in place with a house full of folks can be maddening–especially when you’re the only woman in the clan! While quarantined with my husband, father, and three sons, I quickly realized that I needed to draw boundaries for the sake of my sanity, so I set up my writing space and found an escape behind my desk. What I learned is that if I’m truly to succeed in my author’s journey, I need to devote some portion of each day to pulling ideas out of my head and writing them down. For years, I’ve been stealing snatches of time to write in between being a wife, mother, and corporate ladder climber. The Pandemic showed me that I’m no longer willing to write when I can find the time. If I want to be a successful writer, I have to make my writing a priority. It was more of a mindset shift than anything else, but isn’t that where success begins?
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?
I tend to favor self-publishing. I don’t enjoy the attention paid to the importance of writing to defined tropes as the price of being accepted into the traditional publishing realm. At the same time, I understand that traditional publishers have to consider how much profit they can extract from each venture. I also understand that self-publishing is a tough, demanding path that can be frustrating and demoralizing. However, I believe it’s important for creatives to maintain control of their work products. That’s why I’ve decided to become a publisher as well as a writer. As I grow my business, my hope is not only to write the stories I want to tell, but also to attract and work with authors to provide support, allow them the freedom to grow and keep most of their profits, all while helping to bring to the market timely and relevant writing that informs and entertains.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
When I was a little girl, my mother always encouraged me to put my emotions on paper. What began as journaling has become a way to purge bad feelings, explore and examine the things I wonder about, and to express my hopes and embrace my dreams. I’m definitely a dreamer, and though that may not come through when you talk with me, I see it clearly in my writing, which is definitely when I live out loud. I do some of my best thinking, purging, hoping, and praying through the words that I write and the ideas that I explore. I find beauty and humor in unexpected places, and I want to share that with the world.