Up next in the author spotlight series — author Betsey Kulakowski! I am so happy that I have connected with yet another amazing author, Betsey Kulakowski. She is traditionally published through an Independent publishing company and shares some insight into that process. I am excited to share her interview with you — so here she is! Author Betsey Kulakowski.
Interview with Author Betsey Kulakowski
When did you first start writing?
I wrote my first book at the age of six; crayon illustrations, string bindings, and all.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I don’t remember not wanting to be an author. I’ve always loved stories and telling stories. I just didn’t realize it was something I could make a living at. I went to college thinking I might be a teacher or a psychologist. Eventually, I ended up becoming a safety professional. That led to a lifelong calling. In 1995, I served on one of the teams that responded to the Murrah Bombing here in Oklahoma City, covering worker safety and asbestos abatement in buildings damaged around the site. When the WTC was attacked, I was asked to serve on OSHA’s Disaster Response team, because I had experience working disasters. That led to serving after Hurricanes Katrina/Rita in New Orleans in 2005, and later, responding to tornado recovery efforts in Moore, OK. I eventually went on to get my degree in Emergency Management from Rose State College.
In the background, writing was my hobby. I really started getting serious about publishing a few years ago — with 20 completed manuscripts in my arsenal. I started going to writers’ conferences and listening to podcasts on how to hone my craft. One year ago, I set a goal to get published and do something worthy of being invited to speak at that same writer’s conference, WriterCon, in a year. I accomplished both those goals in September 2020.
*I (Holly) just want to say this is amazing! I totally believe in manifestation, and this is a perfect example of it! Go Betsey!*
Was there any author or book in particular that inspired you to write? Or a teacher/mentor?
I have many favorite authors, all of whom I adore. Meeting William Bernhardt, who hosts the Red Sneaker Writer’s Podcast, hosts WriterCon, and has 50-some Best Selling books of his own was definitely a turning point in my writing career.
I got the chance to go on the WriterCon cruise in February before the pandemic really hit the US, and it was through the course of that cruise that I really began to see a vision of what my publishing career might look like. A few weeks after the cruise I got an offer from Babylon Books to publish not only the book I pitched on the cruise but the whole series. (There are 8 books in this series already written.)
How many books have you written? What are they called? Where can they be found/bought?
I have 20 completed manuscripts currently. The first one to be published is The Veritas Codex, which is book 1 in The Veritas Codex Series. The Veritas Codex launched on September 1, 2020, and is available in paperback and eBook wherever books are sold, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart.com, Kobo, Google, Apple, etc. The audiobook is currently under production and should be out soon.
Here’s the link to the book, description, etc.
If you click on my author’s page, there’s a video too.
What genre do you write?
The Veritas Codex is a paranormal thriller, but I also write science fiction, mysteries, and women’s fiction.
Are any of your characters based on people you know in real life?
I don’t base my characters off of any one person. Most are a mashup of different people’s characteristics, mannerisms, appearance. I use Pinterest to cast my character’s physical traits, so I have a mental picture when I’m writing.
I do have one friend in Europe whom I’ve specifically written into one of The Veritas Codex books because he helped me do some research about the area I was writing and helped me with the language. He was thrilled with it, and it seemed the least I could do to repay his generosity in helping me.
I find some of my husband’s mannerisms in a couple of my male protagonists; the way he dresses his coffee and what he likes to eat. My kids also provide some inspiration for some of the younger characters in my books.
What inspires you to write the most?
They say, “A non-writing writer is a monster courting disaster.” That is absolutely true for me. I have to write. It’s coded in my DNA. I write every day. EVERY DAY! I genuinely believe that life is made of great stories and they’re just waiting to be told.
What is your favorite thing about writing?
Writing is cathartic for me. If I’ve had a bad day, I write. If I’ve had a good day, I write. I can channel all my emotions to the page and work out any issues I’m having while I’m writing.
I’m a bit of an introvert and writing is my “me time”. It lets me recharge and refocus.
Do you listen to music while you write or read?
I do, I studied music and had considered becoming a music teacher at one time in my high school days, then I found out I wasn’t good at reading music — though I am a fantastic mimic — I can play almost anything once I see/hear someone else do it.
I have a couple of soundtracks (aka playlists) for some of my books. My tastes in music are widespread from Michael Bublé to Stevie Nicks, but I especially like English/Scottish trad and folk music. My favorites include Jon Boden, Karine Polwart, and Bellowhead.
What do you write — short stories, poems, novels, novellas, blog posts etc. — and which do you enjoy writing the most?
I write novels primarily. I’ve tried writing short stories, but I’ve found I have no gift for brevity. I love to read big thick books with well-crafted stories that really dive deep into the topic, the characters, and the setting.
I wrote my first poem in 2nd Grade and took second place in a nationwide poetry contest when I was in college. But I don’t write poetry much anymore. I prefer to spend my time working on the novels.
Have you tried to go the traditional route with publishing? — (getting an agent to sell you to a publisher) How did it go?
I’m publishing The Veritas Codex through the traditional route with a local independent publisher. I found mine without an agent and I have been completely happy with the relationship. I found someone who believes in my story as much as I do, as well as someone who challenges me to make it even better as we work on it in the publishing process.
We’re now working on getting the second book in the series ready to go to print. As soon as the second one launches, we’ll get on book three. I’ve already got fans going, “Please tell me I don’t have to wait very long for the next book! I’m dying for more.”
How did you find your publishing company?
I found my publisher through WriterCon conference and the WriterCon cruise. Babylon Books is a local independent press founded by author William Bernhardt. After working with me on the cruise and seeing my determination and never-give-up attitude — and of course, loving the story — he gave me a chance to make my dreams of becoming a published author come true.
Do you have any advice for those looking to be traditionally published?
My advice for anyone seeking a traditional publisher is to attend a writing conference or a workshop and start building relationships. I was pitching to agents and practicing my spiel in person and taking notes on querying by email. I was honing my craft and being coachable and teachable. I’d had a couple of requests for a full manuscript from agents but in the end, they passed on the projects. You want someone who shares your vision, and I just hadn’t found that way. But you don’t give up. I may still self publish some of my other manuscripts but I’m keeping my options open. The key is, don’t quit. You will find your path, or it will find you.
Are you self-published? How did that go and what route did you take (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, other company)? What advice would you give to others who want to self-publish?
While I am going traditional with my paranormal thriller series, I have plenty of other books in my TBP (To Be Published) file. My plan is to take what I’m learning with my current series and transposing it to the other books that are waiting in the cue and get them published as well.
What is your favorite genre to read?
I am an old sci-fi buff. But my tastes in books are as varied as my tastes in music. I read YA, fantasy, suspense/mystery, romance… really almost anything I can get my hands on.
Who is your favorite author now? What is it you like about them?
Robert A. Heinlein and Edgar Rice Burroughs are two of my favorites. Glory Road (Heinlein) is the perfect “adventure” sci-fi book. The Hero’s Journey is very much evident in the story of Oscar Gordon and his quest for the Egg of the Phoenix. Meanwhile, John Carter and a Princess of Mars (Burroughs) is classic sci-fi at its finest. The Disney adaptation of the book may not have been well-received by critics, but I absolutely loved it. Readers will see how Burroughs has informed my writing as we get deeper into The Veritas Codex series.
I am also a fan of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Like her, I wrote The Veritas Codex “for practice”. I never thought anyone else would ever read it. But Outlander proved to be a hit and I’m hoping for the same with The Veritas Codex series.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I love this question and I get asked it a lot. I’m not sure how anyone narrows it down to just one item, so I’m going to give you a couple:
- Set goals for what you want to accomplish with your writing. I wandered for so long with no goal other than, “I want to write a book.” Once I did that I said, “I’m going to write another book.” Etc. I wrote 20. Then I realized, I had to get them out there. What’s the point of writing a story if you don’t share them? Then I set a goal to publish…now all I want is legions of adoring fans — and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
- Do at least one thing every day that gets you closer to your writing goals. Writing every day is a good thing, but sometimes its reading, researching, learning a new skill, editing, marketing, collaborating, budgeting, doing interviews, or just having a cup of coffee with a fellow bookworm or writer. It all counts.
- Don’t quit. As my mentor, William Bernhardt says at the end of every Red Sneaker Writer’s podcast, “You cannot fail if you refuse to quit.”
Do you have any favorite books you recommend right now?
Oh my goodness, I could give you a list a mile long. When I’m between writing books, I read. So I’ve been reading a lot lately. I just finished Christina McDonald’s book, The Night Olivia Fell. It’s wonderful. I also recently read Wendy Higgins’ book, See Me. All her books are fabulous. Lara Bernhardt’s Wantland Files series is exceptionally good. I met Lara on the cruise and her series is similar in genre to mine.
Besides writing, do you have any other hobbies?
I enjoy music and movies. My husband and I like to camp and hike. I’m an avid band-mom — my son is a music major in college and this year has meant no marching band, so I’m a little sad about that. My daughter is in High School and loves to paint and draw, which I enjoy as well.
I’m trying to become a runner, but I’m still more of a power-walker. I’ve broken the 15-minute mile once, but my goal is a 10-minute mile. From there, I’ll consider doing a half-marathon.
Are you on Twitter or do you have an author website we should check out as readers?
I’m on Twitter — @Bkoolie
You can find me on Instagram
And I’m on Facebook at:
I also have a page for The Veritas Codex on Pinterest at:
Is there anything else you want to share about your writing or that you want your readers to know?
I’m extremely excited to have this first book out. My publisher is planning a rapid-release of the entire series, which is a relative term. Editing and polishing take time, but readers won’t have to wait years for the next book. I have 8 written, but I’ve plotted out at least two more, so far.
I did an interview for the Red Sneaker Writer’s podcast that aired this week. Here is the link.
End of Author Interview with Betsey Kulakowski
As a new reader of author Betsey Kulakowski, I am so impressed with her book so far! Lately, I haven’t strayed outside my normal favorite genre of fantasy, but since my author interview with Betsey Kulakowski, I decided to check out her book, The Veritas Codex. I am so glad I did! It was a great story and kept me guessing until the end!
If you want to read more author spotlights, check out my interview with Chynna Pace here!
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Thank you for reading!