I would like to welcome, Carrie Beckort to Layered Pages to talk with me about her B.R.A.G. Medallion book, Kingston’s Project. Carrie has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and a MBA from Ball State University. She spent seventeen years in the corporate industry before writing her first novel. She lives in Indiana with her husband and daughter.
Carrie, thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, Kingston’s Project. How did you discover indieBRAG?
Thanks for having me, Stephanie! I’m so excited that Kingston’s Project earned a B.R.A.G. Medallion. Since I never expected to write a novel in the first place, the B.R.A.G. Medallion helps to ease a few of my anxieties in this new phase of my life. I first learned of indieBRAG from a fellow author, who I met through a mutual friend. She is also a new self-published author, and we try to help each other by sharing information.
What has your experience been like with self-publishing so far?
Publishing a novel is so completely different than anything I’ve ever done in my professional career, yet at the same time I can pull from much of my previous experience to navigate through the process. After I finished the first draft of Kingston’s Project, I started researching what it takes to publish a novel. I knew immediately that self-publishing was the right path for me at this stage of my writing career. I enjoy the control I have over the entire process. Personally, I’d say that the self-publishing process is more intimidating than it is difficult. Certainly there are parts that are difficult, such as trying to find and connect with readers, but I enjoy the challenge.
Another challenge I had was simply the fact that I had no previous writing experience. It’s hard to get people to believe in your work when you have nothing to ‘justify’ that you know what you’re doing. This is one area where indieBRAG has been a huge help. Having earned a B.R.A.G. Medallion has provided me with some credibility as an author that I didn’t have coming into the process.
When did you know you wanted to write a novel?
I have always loved reading, and more specifically I’ve always loved stories. Sometimes I worried that I spent too much time in my daydreams than in reality. However, I never considered writing a novel. I had chosen the technical path in college and eventually migrated to marketing and sales, and I connected more with data analysis and process improvement than creative writing.
Back in 2012 I told my book club gals that I was considering taking a personal leave from work to focus on my family and my health. They were supportive, but they also brought me down to reality. They knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied with staying home and having nothing to do while my daughter was in school. They started tossing around ideas for what I could do, and one of those was that I could write a book. I actually dismissed the idea pretty quickly. My thought was, “I read books. I don’t write them.”
However, about three weeks later I woke up and remembered part of a dream. I thought, “I wonder why that would happen.” My next thought was, “Oh crap, I’m writing a book.” It really was that clear for me. There was no ‘can I do this’ or ‘should I do this’—I started writing Kingston’s Project that very day.
What is your writing process and where in your home do you like to write?
I did end up taking a leave from my company when I was about halfway through the manuscript for Kingston’s Project. It wasn’t for the purpose of writing, but I certainly use the time off to my writing advantage. Because of this, most of my writing time comes while my daughter is in school. This means I don’t get much writing done during the summer, spring, and fall breaks (or on snow days), but that’s OK because spending time with my daughter is my priority. I try to stick to a schedule whenever possible—get the family out the door in the morning, go to the gym, get through emails and other admin type work, then write until the bus brings my daughter back home.
When I first started writing Kingston’s Project, I didn’t tell anyone for about four months. I was convinced that everyone, including my husband, would laugh if they knew (when I did finally tell my husband, he did laugh but only a little). Because I kept it secret, I would mostly write sitting on the couch at night after my daughter went to bed. Now, I write in our dedicated home office.
My actual writing process varies with each novel. For Kingston’s Project, I didn’t even create a timeline until I was about halfway through—and that was only because I was afraid I’d mess up my timing of events. I just started writing at the first word, and continued to the last. For my third novel, Shattered Angel, I had to start with an outline for each chapter before I could start writing. It’s a fixed chapter concept, and I needed to know ahead of time what each would be about and make sure they all fit together.
Please tell me about Kingston’s Project.
Kingston’s Project is told from the point of view of Sarah Mitchell. The novel starts two years after Sarah had suffered a significant loss. She’s struggling to move on, only really able to get through the mechanics of each day. Deep down she does want to live her life again, but she’s so far into the darkness that she doesn’t know how to find her way out. Sarah works for a company that does contract project management work for other companies. One of her firm’s largest clients—Elijah Kingston—requests to interview Sarah to lead a confidential assignment. At the encouragement of her boss and best friend, she accepts the interview and flies out to Colorado (from her home in Indiana).
She is reluctant to agree to do the project, primarily because she is not a fan of Elijah Kingston. What she learns about his project shocks her to her core. It’s enough to make her want to refuse the project and return back home. However, Elijah is able to convince her to stay with the promise to help her heal in the process. The story follows the friendship that forms between Sarah and Elijah, and how they navigate the difficult circumstances that life has thrown their way. Kingston’s Project brings each of their journeys to life—Sarah’s healing and Elijah’s strength and courage.
Tell me a little about Sarah Mitchell.
Sarah is a strong woman who doesn’t know how strong she really is. She’s confident in her professional career, but in her personal life she allows herself to become dependent on those she loves in a way that dims her own strength. She doesn’t know how to pick up the pieces of her broken life without the one person who always did it for her.
Sarah is caring and respectful of those around her. She’s able to accept people for who they are, without passing judgment their way. It doesn’t stop her from speaking her mind, but she tries to do it while respecting the viewpoint of the other person.
Sarah is very organized, which servers her well in her career. She prefers to remain professional at all times, and often finds it difficult to relax. Oh, and she loves coffee and fuzzy socks!
What is a challenge Sarah encounters dealing with her loss?
After her loss, she basically isolates herself from just about everyone. It’s hard for her to overcome something so devastating when she feels so alone. She loses herself in destructive behaviors, which include a lack of eating combined with excessive running. Elijah recognizes this and forces her to acknowledge the extent to which she has allowed her grief to impact her life and health.
What are Elijah Kingston’s strengths and weaknesses?
Oh, Elijah. I really enjoyed watching his character come to life. He’s the kind of person who has a permanent gray line between his strengths and weaknesses. What he may perceive as strength, someone else will certainly see as a weakness! He is confident, arrogant, demanding, and proud. He gets results, and it’s usually the results that he wants.
Yet, he’s a very caring person. All of his actions come from a place of good intentions. He’s capable of recognizing when he’s wrong, he’s just too stubborn to let go of his original decision. We see this in his relationship with his children. They don’t get along, and he refuses to make a change despite Sarah’s encouragement for him to close the gap. Once his course is set, he doesn’t look back. Most of the people in his life view this as a weakness; however, it’s the primary thing that helps him through his situation. So in his journey, it’s his most powerful strength.
What was your inspiration for this story?
It all started with a dream. I woke up, remembered part of something I had dreamt, and immediately went to the computer to do some research. I can’t tell you the exact dream, because it would give away key aspects of the novel. I will tell you that it was more about the relationship between Sarah and Elijah rather than their individual situations. I started with that connection, asking why it existed. Elijah’s story developed naturally from there. For Sarah, I knew she was struggling with something significant, so I decided to give her the one thing I fear most in this world. In addition, my family had recently suffered from a significant loss right before I started writing Kingston’s Project. I think I needed to write through my own grief as a form of healing.
Is there a message in your story you would like readers to grasp?
Life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. There may be loss, illness, injury, broken relationships—the list is long. However, it doesn’t mean we can’t still live and enjoy the path we’ve been given. Sarah’s unexpected path was loss. Grief is a powerful deterrent to life, but it can be overcome. Sometimes we need to reach out to others for help. And sometimes that help comes from someone we would least expect. We just have to be willing to accept and embrace it when it comes our way.
Were there any challenges in writing this story?
Since I wrote Kingston’s Project without the initial intent to publish, I didn’t struggle with too many writing challenges. I just wrote without worry. The challenge came when I finished the manuscript and decided to publish it. One of my biggest challenges was that my manuscript was entirely too long! I ended up cutting over 40% of what I had written. I actually don’t mind that I cut that much—I look at it as I was getting better the more I wrote, so it wasn’t wasted time. But it was difficult to determine what to cut. It’s such a heavy book at times, and I needed to balance that. While a certain scene may have seemed insignificant to the overall plot, if it was one of the lighter moments I had to take caution before cutting it or reducing it.
My other primary challenge after I decided to publish was making sure the information in the novel was accurate. I needed to ensure that the key aspects of Elijah’s struggle were well represented. In my research, I had come across a foundation that supports people in Elijah’s situation. I sent a request, asking if someone would be willing to read the manuscript and offer comments. I was really blessed that they agreed. It was so important for me to get the information right, and I’m so grateful for the input I received.
Where can readers buy your book?
Kingston’s Project is available in paperback and ebook through most of the online retail stores—links are provided below.
For other locations, please visit my website
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Carrie Beckfort who is the author of, Kingston’s Project, our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Kingston’s Project, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.