Today the Chick Lit Writers blog welcomes former Stiletto finalist Mina Khan. She’s graciously given us an update on her writing career, as well as answering questions about her Stiletto experience. Her first book, The Djinn’s Dilemma, will be published this November by Harlequin Nocturne.
Q. Mina Khan? Or Rashda Khan?
A. On writing loops and other places, I’m known as Rashda Khan, but I’m making my debut with the pen name Mina Khan. My plans for getting published as a novelist took longer than I expected and I landed myself a gig as the food columnist for our local newspaper. Before I knew what was happening, I had a foodie career–writing the column, teaching cooking classes, blogging about food and volunteering at food-events like the Kids Eat Summer program. And I had a foodie following. Then I sold my novella, The Djinn’s Dilemma to Harlequin Nocturne to be part of their new Cravings line. Hot, sexy, fast-paced…and not about food. Lol! Well, I didn’t want some little old lady picking up my book expecting cupcakes and getting a whole lot of beefcake instead. Hence the two names. I’ll respond to both!
Q. How do you balance the dual writing career and your family obligations?
A. Hmm, I wake up very early (4 a.m. often) and write as much as I can before the rest of the family wakes up. Then I just tackle one task at a time for the rest of the day.
Q. You were a Stiletto finalist in 2009. Where did that contest win lead you?
A. In 2009, the book of my heart, Wild Fire, won the paranormal category of Stiletto Contest and garnered a request from Editor Latoya Smith of Grand Central Station. This win was a lifeline. I think every writer goes through up and downs, and I was at a very low point. At the point of wondering whether my dream to be a novelist was equal to panning for gold in West Texas…the Stiletto experience kept me writing. Eventually, Ms. Smith passed on the book, but I had pulled back from the brink. Wild Fire went on to land me my agent, Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.
Q. What did you learn from your Stiletto experience?
A. Well, sometimes even when you win the contest and the editor loves your voice, it doesn’t result in a sale. However, it showed me there were people (not related to me) who saw potential in my story and my voice. That kept me going. In fact, I still have Ms. Smith’s very nice note.
Q. What’s your current writing status?
A. Right now I’m immersed in the worlds of djinns and magic and working on a second story set in the same world. That will be followed by a non-fiction proposal. Once those two projects are done, I plan to revisit Wild Fire. I’m plain stubborn and not giving up on it.
Q. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
A. Be stubborn and persevere. Or to quote Galaxy Quest: “Never give up, never surrender!”
Wish you were in Mina Khan’s fabulous shoes? Enter the 2011 Get Your Stiletto in the Door contest for unpublished manuscripts. Deadline for electronic entries is Sept. 6.
Texas-based writer and food enthusiast Mina Khan day dreams of hunky paranormal heroes, magic, mayhem and mischief and writes them down as stories. Between stories, she teaches culinary classes and writes for her local newspaper. Other than that, she’s raising a family of two children, two cats, two dogs and a husband. You can find Mina Khan online, www.facebook.com/Mina.Khan.Author, and Rashda Khan at http://hotcurriesandcoldbeer.blogspot.com/ or on twitter @SpiceBites. The Djinn’s Dilemma will be available in November from Harlequin Nocturne.