Like most of you, Dear Readers, I was first introduced to KG MacGregor through her fabulous Xena fan fiction. What an incredible find! The stories and characters were so rich. Add on the fact that they were well written…well, I was hooked. Over the years, I’ve become an even bigger fan of KG’s novels. Hell, I’ve become a fan of KG. Having the opportunity to meet her and talk with her is a true highlight for me. KG is a true mover and shaker! Today, KGM shares with us her experience at the very first GCLS Conference in New Orleans.
It was June 2005 in New Orleans, oppressively hot and muggy, except inside the Renaissance Arts Hotel, where a colorful Chihuly chandelier set the festive tone. I had driven down the Natchez Trace from Tennessee for the First Annual GCLS Conference with a single purpose—to convince Linda Hill to publish my books. Anything else would be icing on the cake.
I’d been writing lesbian stories for about three years, enough to believe I knew all I needed to succeed, especially since I’d seldom heard a discouraging word from my Xenaverse fans. Nonetheless, I wandered into one the breakout sessions on the off chance of picking up a helpful nugget or two.
The session—chaired by Radclyffe, who was rigorously pushing herself and others to raise the standard of our work—was on the topic, “Point of View.” I admit that I had a very simplistic understanding of the concept; to me, it was merely an issue of who was telling the story. In our genre, the most common POV variations were first person, third-person limited and the omniscient narrator (also third-person). Choose one and stick with it throughout the book. How hard could that be to understand?
I usually write in third-person limited, allowing readers to relate to all of my characters and know their inner thoughts while I hold things back to unfold later in the story. I’d read somewhere that “head hopping” was a big no-no, and I was working on breaking that habit. Only the omniscient narrator can know what every character is thinking, and with third-person limited, I could be inside only one head at a time.
What I hadn’t grasped was the nuance of the limited POV. I realized it the moment Radclyffe asked us to consider the phrase, “She blushed.” Could a character blush if I were writing from her point of view? Er, no. She could feel her face grow warm, see it flush with color in a mirror, or imagine it turning bright red—but she could not blush, because blushing implies a change in color that she cannot observe from inside her face.
To call that a huge breakthrough in my writing might sound silly, but it turned a light on in my darkened brain and made me want to go back and rewrite every book I’d ever done. In fact, when Linda Hill finally gave in to my incessant pleas, I was able to do that with some of my older books before they reappeared with the Bella logo. These days, every single story I write is laid out with careful attention to who is telling the story, and what they can and cannot reveal. I’ve had the great fortune of working over the last few years with a couple of outstanding editors, Cindy Cresap and Katherine V. Forrest, both sticklers for point of view. I personally think they sadistically enjoy berating a writer who slips every now and then with something like, “She blushed.” But not when it’s more than an occasional slip—it’s tedious work when such inconsistencies run throughout the manuscript, and it’s one of the top reasons for rejections. Put another way, a writer who grasps the nuances of point of view has a far better chance of being published.
The GCLS Con in Dallas will be my ninth! That’s perfect attendance, and each one has sharpened my perspective on what makes a book readable and clear. I’ve become convinced over the years that I don’t actually know it all, and I return each summer with hopes of learning more. And all that stuff you see on Facebook about Karaoke, “gobble-gobble,” author auctions, con virgins, and seeing everybody cleaned up once a year for the Goldie Awards? It’s icing on the cake.
A former teacher and market research consultant, KG MacGregor holds a PhD in journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill. Infatuation with Xena: Warrior Princess fan fiction prompted her to try her own hand at storytelling in 2002. In 2005, she signed with Bella Books, which published the Golden Crown finalist Just This Once. Her sixth Bella novel, Out of Love, won the Lambda Literary Award for Women’s Romance and the Golden Crown Award in Lesbian Romance. She picked up Goldies also for Without Warning, Worth Every Step and Photographs of Claudia (Contemporary Romance), and Secrets So Deep (Romantic Suspense).
Other honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Royal Academy of Bards, the Alice B. Readers Appreciation Medal, and several Readers Choice Awards.
An avid supporter of queer literature, KG currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Lambda Literary Foundation. She divides her time between Palm Springs and her native North Carolina mountains