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?

Tales of an indie author – My feelings have been hurt

Dr.-Who

Ready for a bit of a pity-party?

I feel like I’ve been a blog tour forever, first for my alter-ego Anna Ellis and then promoting The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd.

It’s not my first rodeo, so I do know what to expect. It’s a lot of fun as I race to check for reviews and posts each morning, but the preparation needs a lot of work. Luckily, when you sign up with a company that organizes these things, they do the majority of the work. I went with Chick Lit Plus, for the second time (Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder in 2015) and would recommend Samantha to anyone in the chick lit/women’s fiction field. I had great results; good reviews, positive feedback, got to know some new bloggers.

I’ve been promoting Charlotte as much as I can recently. I feel like I’ve been scrounging for reviews (please, if you’ve read Charlotte or any of my other books, PLEASE PLEASE review on Amazon or Goodreads!) and for bloggers to feature me on their site. Again, great response, lots of support from everyone I’ve come across. Yay! Charlotte is loved!

Until this week. The last day of my tour was Monday but I had connected with a couple of bloggers who agreed to feature me Tuesday and Wednesday. That would be good timing, I thought to myself. Prolong my tour for a couple of days.

Tuesday came along – I checked the blog that was suppose to feature me. Nothing there.

okay, maybe she’s late with the post. I’ll check again later.

Nothing later. Or the next day.

The blog that was supposed to feature me Wednesday…there’s nothing there either.

What’s going on? Did I mess up the dates? Have these two bloggers banded together with some vendetta for me? (writer’s imagination) Is it an unfortunate coincidence? Is it still April?

As of now, two bloggers who claim to support indie authors by featuring them on their sites haven’t put up the guest posts I wrote for them. (actually, make that 3 – I wrote this really neat Charlotte dossier for a post a month ago and it’s still never appeared). I worked hard on those posts and while they will eventually appear on my site, it would have been nice for my work to find new readers, which is the point of doing guest posts. I understand that it isn’t easy to be a blogger – these aren’t paid positions, people support others out of the goodness of their hearts. I know – I’ve done it. I’ve had bloggers who couldn’t post of the promised day before, but they contacted me beforehand. Is it fair that I think it’s irresponsible and actually rude not to hold up your end of a commitment? Yes, they could have an emergency and a very plausible reason for not posting my work on the agreed on date, but 3 of them? That seems a strange coincidence.

If I was angrier and less paranoid about a vendetta towards me, I’d list the blogs and perhaps turn high school-ish and insist they be ignored by all. I’m not going to do that. I’m not even sure I’ll contact them. They lost a reader and they lost my support. I like to think that means something, but obviously not to these bloggers.

Indie authors – has this ever happened to you? Is this a common occurrence that just hasn’t happened to me before?

How Charlotte Dodd Stuck with me

How I refused to give up on the character of Charlotte Dodd.

One of the spots on my blog tour with CLP Blog Tours was Connect with Click Lit Club. Here’s the guest post featured on the site.

I really think I’d like to be a superhero.

holly kerr1Or maybe a secret agent. Nothing too dangerous of course. I am a forty-something mother and I like to think my kids still need me around! But have you ever wondered … wanted … fantasized a bit about having a little more excitement in your life? A little danger? Have you thought about what it would be like to jump out of a plane onto the roof of a building, sneak in, have to fight your way through the bad guys with such awesome moves that you manage this with your hair still in place and not a bruise on your body to rescue your man or someone equally deserving?

I have to admit, I have had such daydreams.

The Secret Life of Charlotte DoddAnd that’s why I wrote The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd.

I’m not a violent person in any means. I’m an average, baseball mom of three. I’m an author. And one of the more enjoyable aspects of being a writer is that you get to imagine your characters (yourself!) in all sorts of situations.

I first came up with the idea for The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd years ago. I had finished writing my first novel (then titled Baby! Baby? Baby?!, now Unexpecting), a chick lit novel about a woman who wants to have a baby, and was debating what my next book would be. At this time, I had been quite taken with the Jennifer Garner show Alias. Watching the show – along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, another of my favourites – really strengthened my little secret agent/super hero fantasy. I loved the idea of a strong, confident, independent woman being able to take control of any situation.

There were a few moments in those two television shows that inspired The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd. Sydney Bristow sucking the air from a submerged car tire keep from drowning. A car doing a 360 turn during a car chase. And Buffy’s signature fight move – rolling back onto the shoulders and flipping to her feet. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to do things like that?

And that’s when I came up with the character of Charlotte Dodd. She was part Sydney Bristow, part Buffy with a little Jason Bourne thrown in.

She would be an agent with a super-secret government organization. She was recruited at a very young age and from a family of spies. Her grandfather was the co-creator of the National Intelligence and Information Agency, a super secret government organization that catapulted Canada to the forefront of worldwide espionage. (I know, I know – Canada? Fiction, remember?!)

I came up with other characters – Charlotte’s brothers and their roles in the NIIA, fellow agents Benjy and Payton. I came up with a bit of a love triangle with Ham and Luke. I devised the fight scene where she first meets Benjy, who reminded Charlotte of Neil Patrick Harris. You can tell how long ago I first came up with the story because the early reversions mention Neil Patrick Harris’ childhood character, Doogie Howser!
And that’s where the story stalled. But never forgotten, never far from my thoughts. I had all these characters – I had Charlotte – and they needed something to do.

Over the years, Charlotte has stayed with me but the story has gone through a lot of changes. I wrote at least five versions of Charlotte, trunking each one. Charlotte lost her memory, got it back. One memorable version had Charlotte as part vampire, which made her an excellent vampire hunter!

And then last year, after my third book was published – Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder – I pulled Charlotte out again. I had found critique partners and I needed to give them something to critique! This time, Charlotte was still a spy but had no memory of her time as a secret agent. I took few parts of my original story and started again.

I think this is the best revision of Charlotte I could have come up with. She’s a character that I fell in love with, one who wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s been over ten years since I first came up with the idea of Charlotte and so finally publishing the story was a very happy moment. It was great to finally finish what I started so long ago, and let my daydreams of the life of a secret agent run wild!

But Charlotte wasn’t enough for me. I’m ready for my next mission. I’m working on a sequel!

For the full post, check out Connect with Chick Lit Club