Interviewed by The Phantom Writer today

I only know the persona of The Phantom Writer. This is the second time I’ve been interviewed by them and it was as enjoyable as ever!! Here’s what we discussed:

The Phantom Writer 

Holly Kerr

Holly is a full-time writer, devoted wife and loving mother to three gorgeous children. She’s a huge Harry Potter, Star Wars and Marvel fan and a wine lover. She is a fan of historical fiction.  She is not, however, a fan of chocolate. Weird.

 

INTERVIEW

1. What are you working on right now?

Right now I have 3 projects on the go – I’m getting ready to re-release my novelComing Home, which was first published in 2013. I’m changing publishers and so the book will be getting a new cover and a few changes inside. It’ll be out April 11.

Oops, I think I just announced the release date here before my website!

I’m also working on a sequel to The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd called The Best, Worst First Date. It’s chick lit with a side of action adventure. I guess we can call Charlotte an action chick, and in the sequel our heroine Tenley Scott gets caught up in Charlotte’s adventures, which are a little out of her comfort zone. It will be available June 2017.

My third project is pretty close to my heart. I have 3 kids and they keep telling me they want to read one of my books. Because my books aren’t exactly kid-friendly, I wrote them their own novel, The Dragon Under the Mountain. Now they want a sequel! I was hoping to have it finished for them by last Christmas but the way things are going, maybe I should aim for December 2017!

2. Can you tell us a little something about it? 

I’ll tell you something about Coming Home, because I’m pretty excited about it.  It’s a story about sisters and small-towns and how even though you may love them, it’s not always easy to like your family.

3. What inspired you to write it? 

It was inspired by my own relationship with my sister. Like Brenna and Cat, we’re from a small town, and like them, we did not get along. (Although there was no cake batter thrown by us, there has been mashed potatoes seen flying across the table) After we both left home, any relationship between us disintegrated, until my sister’s divorce some years ago. It was like I got my sister back, as well as a good friend.

 4. What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Advice to aspiring writers –Write. Keep writing. Write every day. It’s the only way you’ll improve. And don’t rush it. And don’t disregard self-publishing. Things have changed and traditional publishing isn’t always the end game.

5. If you weren’t an author, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

If I wasn’t a writer, I think I would be working in a book store. Reading other people’s books!

6. If you could have written any book, which book would you have written and why?  

If I could have written any book…that’s a tough one. I would want to write a book whose characters jumped off the page and into your heart, with a world a reader would want to escape to, over and over again, full of history and romance and excitement.

The Harry Potter series is too obvious, so let’s say Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon.It has all of that and more.

7. If you were asked to write a book in another genre to the one you currently write in, which would you choose? Why? 

If I could write in another genre, I’d pick historical fiction. It’s my favourite genre to read, and I love learning about history but as for writing it, I think I’m daunted by the amount of research I’d have to do!

8. To me there’s nothing like a good paperback, the smell of the pages as I read, turning them, that new book smell. But now e-books are growing ever popular. Do you think paperbacks and hardbacks will soon be a thing of the past and something we’ll all miss, or are you a fan of the modern way of publishing and reading books? 

I personally, will do everything I can to make sure actual paper books stay around forever! I publish ebooks, but every one of them (except the prequel to Charlotte Dodd) is also in paperback and I have a copy sitting on my shelf. I agree, there is nothing like the smell, taste (maybe not taste!) and touch of a book. I find I don’t read the books I have on my Kindle! I forget about them. I’d rather see a tidy stack of books waiting for me to pick up rather than scrolling through an ereader, trying to decide what to read next.

9. Who is your favourite fictional character from literacy?

I can’t pick just one favourite fictional character, and I did my best not to pick the usual suspects. (For me that would be Elizabeth Bennett and Hermoine Granger!)

I limited myself to 3, all surprisingly from books with a bit of a sci-fi slant!

* Stuart Redman, from The Stand

* Mark Watney from The Martian

* William, the alien from V

10. If you were trapped on a desert island, what three things or people would you want with you? 

If I were trapped on a deserted island…I should say I would want my family with me, but right at this moment, I might want to be intentionally trapped on an island just to escape from the chaos!! So let’s leave them out of my answer!

Three things I would want, providing I’m not concerned with rescue or survival, but just simple enjoyment:

* A library supply of books

* A never-ending stack of notebooks and pens

* A healthy stock of wine

 

To follow and her work, please follow the links below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HollyKerrAuthor

Website:  http://hollykerr.ca/

Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/2l8Qx8f
It was a pleasure to interview this wonderful writer again, I’ve previously interviewed her under her other name. She certainly talented and ambitious. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me Holly 🙂
Don’t forget to keep a look out for the re-release of Holly’s novel Coming Home, available on April 11th.

Fantastic Fonts

Who knew Fonts could be so Fascinating?

The end is near for my revisions of Coming Home, and yes, I’m getting a bit bored with it. This is a project I thought I could whip together in less than a month. The book was written – heck, it was published! How hard could it be to get the rights back, get a new cover, and get it back out there under the Three Birds Press imprint? Sure, I was going to have a quick run-through, make a few minor changes…

Let’s let one of my critique partners look at it.

Letting Nita loose with it has been both a blessing and…well just a blessing. But this is why it’s taking so much longer.

And will be so much better than the original.

I’ve changed the point of view from first person to third. There was quite a bit of telling with the original story – now I’m showing you how it is, coming home to your sisters. The story is the same, as well as the characters (although I’ve done some name changes) but looking back, I think I’ve re-written most of the book.

This is a good thing. But it’s taken a lot longer than expected.

But that’s not why I’m posting today.

Today is all about Fonts

And if you’re not a writer, especially independent authors, this post will have no meaning for you.

I was happily doing a last check of Coming Home before I send a chunk out to specially selected people for one last look through when I decided to add an email to the story. Adding email or text, anything interrupting the body of text is always fun – what spacings to use, what font, size…

That was sarcasm. It’s not fun.

Sidenote: All of my frustrations and hair-pulling could be avoided by hiring someone to professionally format my books. But that’s an extra cost that could be used somewhere else, and I’ve done a good job with my books so far.

Because I’ve been neck-deep in revisions for…a while…decided to check with the gods of google to see what the best font would be for this email.

There are SO many different fonts available!

I had no idea. Not being a designer, or having any inclination to design, I’ve never considered the variety available. I have my list of fonts on Windows; there are some fun ones I like on Canva.

And there are some fonts better for publishing than others.

Within a few moments, I learned that a serif is the little tags on the edge of letters. Sans serif fonts are best for titles and chapter headings; serifs work well for the body of text.The little tags, or legs on the letters help the letters flow together and improves readability.

I had no idea about that!

In case you’re interested, some of the best, most popular fonts for publishing are

  • Garamond (for thrillers)
  • Minion
  • Caslon (non-fiction)
  • Sabon (romantic fiction)
  • Utopia
  • Georgia
  • Helvetica

For titles and chapter headings, these work well

  • New Gothic
  • Steelfish
  • Aargh
  • Baskerville

Well, that changes things! I had already gone through and selected my chapter fonts – a mixture of Wide Latin and Century Gothic. The body of my book was in Constantia, which if you notice, isn’t anywhere on the list.

After some careful research and a lot of playing around with the fonts on my PC, I just finished changing the font of the book, from Constantia to Georgia. Garamond was nice but didn’t do it for me. I would have liked Sabon, but downloading a new font seemed complicated for a day that was supposed to be spent finishing revisions. If you’ve done it and it’s not that bad, please let me know!

I also changed the chapter headings to Baskerville Old Face, and Candara, which is tag-free and looks nice.

WordPress doesn’t have those fonts available for my blog, so you’ll have be patient until I post the first chapter to check it out for yourself. I hope you do that – I’ll have the cover, first chapter and pre-sale info available on Friday!!

Like everything in my life as an independent author, this morning has been a learning experience, something new to add to my arsenal of what I need to know to self-publish. Now, when I read a book I’ll be paying special attention to the font. And I subscribed to the newsletter for InDesign Skills, for info and special tips needed to make my books look just right. What will tomorrow bring?

Can you tell I’m procrastinating? I just wrote a blog post on fonts! Now, off I go to finish the revisions for the day!!

 

 

Going back to Coming Home

Coming Home has come home to Holly

Picking a Favourite

For writers, books are like children – it’s impossible to have a favourite.

When my kids ask who my favourite child is, I always tell them I love them equally and for different reasons.

I feel the same way about the books I’ve written. I love Unexpecting because it was my first published and because of the secondary characters, Cooper and Emma and Brit. I love Absinthe because of the friendship of the women, and the twist at the end (which was fun to write!) I love Charlotte because I found I love writing action sequences, and I love Dragon for my kids.

 

 

I love Coming Home because…

And there lies the problem. Coming Home is the black sheep of my book family. I love it but…

…it has issues.

The History

Coming Home was published in 2013, by Etopia Press. The first time one of my books had been sold to a publisher, which helped validate my new attempt at a writing career. I loved the story – five sisters who grew up in a tiny little town in Northern Ontario; two of which loved each other but really never got along.

I still love the story. I love the characters and the interactions and the fight scene between… (oops, spoiler!)

I dedicated the book to my sister, because after she left a tumultuous marriage, I felt like I was getting my sister back in my life. Not only getting my sister back, but finding a new friend. Coming Home has a lot of personal meaning for me and I was ecstatic when I sold it to Etopia.

Last year, I starting working on finding my brand and all those fun marketing things that authors now need to deal with. I had covers re-did, changed some things around; I’m an independent author/publisher now, so I can do that! 🙂 I looked at Coming Home.

I couldn’t do a thing with it. I couldn’t change the description on-line, drop the price for a sale, change the cover (which doesn’t really fit with my others). My hands were tied, which wasn’t a nice feeling after doing everything myself for the last 4 years! So I started wondering what I could do. Coming Home never really sold well for Etopia. It’s mainly a romance publisher, and my book isn’t a romance. Plus, there was the edit problem when it first came out…

I’m not about to trash Etopia because they are lovely people. But let’s just say I was never really happy with the final version of the book. 

And now…

Long story short, I got the rights for Coming Home back from the publisher! And I’m about to re-release it into the world, under my Three Birds Press imprint.

New cover – same title

Same story – complete overhaul

I wrote Coming Home at the beginning of my career and I have to admit, I’m a MUCH better writer now! I’m almost finished the revisions – I’ve changed the POV from first person, to third, which is a bit of an undertaking. With critique partners now. Sending it to the editor next week. Cover reveal next week, and pre-order date.

I can’t say how much I’M IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK!

It’s like the first time, all over again. It’s getting excited about a scene or a line of dialogue in the middle of the night, rushing to wake up to begin working on it. I can’t wait for people to read it! I’ll have to do a giveaway. In fact, I’m so happy with my changes that I want to offer a copy (paperback or ebook) to anyone who read the other version, just so they can see how much better it is! (Corinne, are you out there?)

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. This is why my blog has been neglected. This is why I had to push off any thoughts of a book tour for The Best Worst First Date because it’s not ready! This is why my daughter is mad at me because I won’t work on her Dragon book! Coming Home has consumed me. I planned for a week of quick edits, a read-through by one of my crit partners which has now turned into two months and counting of daily re-writes of chapters. Cutting – I’ve cut so much! But it’s so much better for it.

I hope I’ve gotten you excited about it, too. Because you’ll be able to read it soon! 🙂

 

The Writing Process – NaNoWriMo a no go for me

I Really Want to Participate in NaNoWriMo this Year.

nanovwrimo-2016NaNoWriMo is coming up fast. But I’m not taking part this year. 🙁

At least not officially.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month – a month of blissful creativity where you write a novel in a month. Of course your book isn’t ready to be published at the end of November, but if you manage to keep up the pace, you will have a first draft of a novel, roughly around 50, 000 words completed. It’s fun, it’s challenging and you need to do some prep work, like have an idea what you’re writing about. I always get my character studies finished before hand as well. I’ll miss not doing it this year.

To ‘win’ NaNoWriMo – which is what they call it when you meet the word count on nanowrimo-300x280November 30 – is incredibly satisfying as a writer. At least it was to me. It also means you have to turn off your other writing projects, which is why I’m not participating this year. At least not officially. I have two other projects on the go, so I’ll use the inspiration of thousands of people around the world frantically typing (or writing) word after word to finish my projects. I don’t think I’ll need 50,000 words, but I need to finish the draft of Best Worst Date and ready it for my editor. The Missing Files of Charlotte Dodd will be finished by the end of the week and ready for the next step. I also have a side project I need to complete. And I promised the kids a new Dragon book.

Sound like fun? It is, and I look forward to crossing these projects off my to-do list. What is frustrating about the lack of time for NaNoWriMo, is that I have the best idea for a new project!

It came to me in a dream

snoopy-darkIt was a weird dream, mind you, involving Sheldon from Big Bang, LEGO and a airplane crash. But I got an idea out of a novel from it – one that I’d love to write!

But it will have to wait.

Because I look at my writing as a business, I business-planhave a plan that includes when books will be published. I have deadlines, just like any other job. So as much as I want to work on this new idea (tentative title – Seating Assignments) it will have to wait because Charlotte needs to come first. I have a publishing plan for Best Worst First Date, that already includes a signing in a local library. (More details on this to follow). I’ve found that I have a tendency to take on too many projects at once, so this time I’m learning from my mistakes.But I’ll be pretending to do NaNoWriMo with the rest of you, because the sooner Date is done, I get to start on the new project!

Good luck to all who are participating in NaNoWriMo!  I’ll be cheering you on!!!

 

The Writing Process – Covers

The Writing Process

My writing was not going well last week. I think I have too many projects on the go at once.  When my head got too jumbled with plots and characters, I took some time off to browse the images at iStock. With all these projects on the go, I’m going to need some covers.

When I first started writing, I had no idea about cover art. I’m a writer, not a visual person. But the more books I finish, the more I’m getting the hang of it. When I finished The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd, I told my graphic girl, Donna (she does all my covers and I love her!) what the book was about and she found the pic to use. This time, because I’m working on both a sequel and prequel, I had a idea what I wanted. And after a thorough search of iStock (you can waste a lot of time looking at pretty pics!) I found them.

Just so you know, I don’t create my own covers. I give input, and ideas and this time I found the images, but putting it all together has proven beyond me. I know – I’ve tried to do it myself. Like editing, cover art is one of those things it’s best to pay for, unless you’re a graphic artist. I am not. So I have Donna Chabot, who has designed all of my covers with the exception of Coming Home. And that’s going to be getting a reboot – more on that later!

So I now have drafts of The Missing Files of Charlotte Dodd and The Best Worst First Date, as well as my next Dragon book, The Dragon Under the Dome.

Of course none of books are finished but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that it’s never to soon to start building the buzz. My next step (beside finishing them) is to pick a release date and then start getting the word out, as well as the pics.

Here’s the images I found for Date and Missing Files. I’ll keep you posted when I get the final covers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having these definitely inspire me to keep plugging along. I predict the words will be flying from my fingers this week!

 

 

 

The Writing Process – What I Learned Last Week

girl-writing-on-floorWhat I Learned Last Week

A writer’s Google search history is best deleted as often as possible. We look up some scary s*&t!

I’m working on a sequel  and  a prequel to The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd. Both are chick lit/spy adventures so I get to come up with some cool scenarios for my peeps to get tangled up in, as well as find out lots of information that the normal person wouldn’t really have a need for.

Here’s What I Searched For Last Week

  • How to Knock someone out – Of course I found out the best way to punch someone but what I really wanted was something a little more discrete. I learned that if you press hard on the carotid artery in the neck, it stops the flow of blood to the brain, rending a person unconscious in 6-8 seconds. Please don’t try this at home,vulcan because it can also lead to death!  I also learned the Vulcan nerve pinch technique, made famous (for you non-geeks!) by Dr. Spock on Star Trek. Interesting fact: Did you know if you use the middle of your head to head butt another person, you might crack your head? Apparently it’s best to go a bit on the side!
  • Mapping the brain and storing information – This quickly got a little too sci-fi for me, but it will be possible to store your memories in the future. And my NIIA (National Intelligence and Information Agency has already come up with a way to do it!
  • Ropes and Pulleys – This quickly led to a few R-rated uses for ropes, which I’ll leave out of these books!!
  • Spy Accessories – Interesting and Annoying Fact – Did you know there is something called the InfidelityTest? It lets you test for semen in 5 different areas. That all fine if you think you’re wife is having an affair, but what if you suspect your husband if having an affair with another woman? (not that I am!!) Where’s the test for that?!?

And that’s only the research I came up with the Charlotte sequel/prequel! Wait until I start working on the new Dragon book!!

If you’re a writer, what’s the most interesting fact you came up with last week? And if you’re a reader, what’s the most off-the-wall thing you learned from a book?

 

 

The Writing Process – Why I love my Critique Partners

Why I Love My Critique Partners

Why I love my critique partners

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do I love them? My critique partners make me a better writer.

For those of the non-writers, critique partners are readers who will critique and evaluation your writing. I’ve only worked with other writers, creating a reciprocal relationship – I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. But as everyone knows, putting something you love out there for others to judge is really difficult.

crit-partners-3

But totally worth it.

These days I work with 2 awesome women authors, Lisa and Nita. We do everything on-line; they live nowhere near me. I’ve never even met them!

But I know how they write.

We share chapters, give comments and encouragement. We tell each other what works and what needs to be changed. They know my characters almost as well as I do. We’re each others’ cheerleaders and support staff. It’s a good deal.

I’ve just finished revising the first five chapters in my new book, The Best Worst First Date. It’s a sequel of sorts to The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd – another chick-lit/spy thriller with Charlotte and her spy family as a part of it, but a new character, Tenley Scott as the protagonist. It’s fun to write and extremely helpful to have Nita and Lisa looking over the chapters as I go along. They pick up on things I miss – like how Tenley can sound too much like Charlotte and why would Tenley give up her name (and her daughter’s) to the bad guy. Things I might have picked up on, but maybe not until I was neck-deep in final edits and revisions.

Writing is very solitary and writers are notorious introverts. I can go weeks without discussing my latest WIP with anyone. Knowing Lisa and Nita are there for me to bounce ideas off as well rein me in when plots get too out of hand is very reassuring, not to mention comforting. Having them close enough to meet would be wonderful, but on-line works well too. I wanted to write this post to give a brief glimpse into the writing process but also as a shout-out to my partners. Both are wonderful writers and I will be throwing my full support to them when it comes time to promote their books. I’m so glad we found each other!!

crit-partners-2

 

If you’re a writer, do you work with critique partners? What’s your experience?