Welcome to the two hundred and eightieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with romance and romantic suspense author http://kerri-williams.com. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Kerri. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Kerri: Hi, I live on the Mid North Coast of NSW. I have been married going on ten years this year and we have two beautiful daughters together. I began writing not long after I met my husband at sixteen and began the roller coaster ride of ‘why am I even bothering, the dream is just that; a dream’ on and on this went until about six or so years ago when I finished my first novel and realised I didn’t know where to go from there. I found RWA (Romance Writers Australia) and there I learnt my next steps. Now I have two published contemporary romance novels to be proud of.
Morgen: That’s lovely to hear; that you’re “proud”. I hope we all are of our writing. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Kerri: I write romance but have a love for suspense so I thought, why not join the two. I’m in the midst of writing a series of three romantic suspenses. An awesome journey if I do say so myself.
Morgen: You can certainly say. 🙂 What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Kerri: My two contemporary romance novels are TAKING BACK HIS WIDOW and NUDGING CUPID. Both of which are under my own name because…well quite frankly, I’m easily confused. What if someone calls out my P name and I don’t answer?
Morgen: <laughs> Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Kerri: Well I think most authors have had at least one rejection. That first novel I talked about before RWA, well I thought it was the most fantastic ms I had ever set eyes on and what publisher wouldn’t want it. LOL. I was hooked on HQN novels and aimed for them before I was sent my first rejection letter. I was disappointed of course and thought to myself, ‘but why?’ So I entered a competition and the feedback was ‘this is the best careless piece of work I have ever read. You have a great voice but you need to look at the technique.’ This judge made me cry before I realised it was kind of a compliment and she was correct. I researched and read and read until my two pub novels were requested by HQN before being rejected again.
If you’re counting, that’s three and I didn’t give up and I think that’s the key!
Both my novels are published in print and digital through Eternal Press and are doing well.
Morgen: That’s wonderful. You obviously sound so passionate about writing that I think if you’d had ten times that many you’d have still kept going. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Kerri: I presently do not have an agent but I know that if you want to go to a main stream publisher eg; A&U, they do not accept unsolicited work. That being said, there are loopholes like their Friday or Mon pitch program, where there is a very small amount of room for your work and bio to be submitted on their site. They have a look at it and if you intrigue them with a marketable product in that small sub then they will contact you within two weeks – two anxious weeks. A friend of mine (un-agented) was found this way and then after contracting two books through them still found it hard to get an agent. Go figure. I think the Australian Romance market is truly hard to break into. America for me is easier and highly marketed there. Luckily at the moment, rural romance is a hit and we are seeing more and more of them on our bookstore and department shelves.
Morgen: It has become more difficult to get an agent than publisher, certainly here in the UK and I think with the onset of eBooks publishers have become more approachable to direct enquiries. You mentioned a moment ago that your books are available as print and eBooks, were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Kerri: I purposely subbed to Eternal Press for this reason so that both markets were covered. I read both, I love the convenience of purchasing digital – that and saving bookshelf room. But I love a print book in my hand on the beach or when we’re camping.
Morgen: That’s interesting; that you’d rather have a paper book when you’re out. I’ve been print books all the way but recently bought a Kindle and that goes out with me. 🙂 How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Kerri: Oh my gosh – ALL of it. It’s even in my contract but honestly, that friend I spoke about in the mainstream publisher who you can find her books at BigW etc, she has to as well. After the first month of her release her book is considered an old release. I suppose that’s sort of the same for HQN which only have a month shelf life. With eternal press, they do promote overseas at conferences and online but really it is up to you to get your name out there. Hello! Grin.
Morgen: 🙂 I’ve found that too. I think there’s only been one author who’s said they don’t need to do any of their marketing. I like the fact that we get to speak directly to our readers, especially the passionate ones. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Kerri: My first novel, TAKING BACK HIS WIDOW is my fav with suspense, a villain, lovers etc. It’s a roller coaster and I love it. Not that I don’t love NUDGING CUPID, but it’s a totally different read all together.
As for the characters – Dean is Jensen Ackles from Supernatural x Ryan Gosling from The Notebook and Livinia is Kate Hudson from Fools Gold. I don’t have her crossed with anything because I find she is a well-rounded actress in all her roles.
Morgen: She’s great, isn’t she. Did you have any say in the title / covers of your book(s)? How important do you think they are?
Kerri: I thought they would change the titles as they were HQN based but they left them and the covers – there is a profile page you fill out and send to cover artist. I described the actors I just spoke about and gave mannerisms and Dean’s leather jacket, a climactic scene etc. Before I knew it Amanda sent me a mock-up and it was exactly what I had asked for. The lesson here is to not be afraid to tell them what you want.
Morgen: Because they can always say “no”. 🙂 Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Kerri: My goal for this year may seem small but it’s workable – 500 words / day. I don’t find it overwhelming and more often than not I go over. Late last year I suffered from the terrible disease known as writers block and realised there was something in the last scene that needed fixing so after leaving it for a few weeks I had a new perspective and only added a small thing and BANG! I was on a roll again. Phew.
Morgen: Phew indeed. 🙂 I only worked out fairly recently (not sure why) that just 300 words a day is a 100,000 word novel a year. 🙂 Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Kerri: To a degree I’m a plotter. I write down the aim, struggles, internal conflict, external conflict etc. Then I go for it like a punster on crack. This sometimes works well and sometimes it’s my enemy. P.S, I don’t actually use crack. Hehe.
Morgen: 🙂 Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Kerri: My characters are realistic and have flaws even though they are brave and romantic. I need them to allow the reader to fall in love with them and understand why they are the way they are and for you to be able to either relate or empathise. Life is not supposed to be perfect all the time. Bummer huh.
Morgen: Perfect is dull. It’s a well-known fact. 🙂 Do you write any non-fiction, poetry or short stories?
Kerri: I never could master a short story, even in high school. I would start and then before I knew it I was leaving hints for this and planting seeds to that then buzz – exam over. Whoops. Hey I still did well in English though.
Morgen: And it comes in handy now – like me being a secretary since I left school (quick typing and good organising). Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Kerri: One thing I tell other writers who are striving for publication is to write, write, write. You can edit at the end because it you keep going back you may never finish it or the guts of the story is lost. Often I end up adding extra during the editing period and make a scene more powerful.
Morgen: Exactly – you can’t edit a blank page. Do you have to do much research?
Kerri: Taking Back His Widow, very little because I lived in a small town on the coast which is where the book was based upon and used my experience. Nudging Cupid I had to do a little more as there were a lot of technical things to filming a reality game show. The series I’m in the middle of required a lot of research because it has the police force, law, break and entering, guns, drugs, drug running, it goes on and on and on but it gives the story a sense of authenticity and depth.
Morgen: And if it didn’t someone would pick you (I’m generalising here) up on it. Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc., do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Kerri: All of the above. I have a family and that equals noise but being a mother you tend to zone them out and they become a sort of white noise. I’m sitting on the couch next to my hubby who’s channel surfing (I hate that – pick a channel will ya) but I can write and write. Love a café because I love coffee. Love music during certain scenes to put me in the mood – something deep and filled with sorrow is great for that lost love etc.
My fav is on a writers retreat with my fellow authors, we hear each others’ keys tapping away and it makes us push on because the other is on a roll. The wine helps us too. LOL
Morgen: <laughs> Local writer (and friend) Helen Hunt is organising a retreat (again, locally :)) for the end of April and I can’t wait. 🙂 Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Kerri: I have a couple that need a lot of work – like the first book I ever wrote. I like them but they need quite an overhaul before I send them anywhere.
Morgen: But you’ve had more practice since then so you know what needs doing… I have LOADS of those. 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Kerri: The guilt of finding a series to watch on tv or read. I have an addictive personality and writing goes on the backburner. Heck the family went on the backburner when I found the Twilight series. Poor kids, that week it was a fend for yourself situation. Eek.
Morgen: It’s not a series I’ve been into but I can see why it’s popular. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kerri: Read what you want to write. Research the market you want to break into and the best advice is – NEVER GIVE UP!
Morgen: Absolutely. A successful writer is one who didn’t give up. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Kerri: I pretend to work. They pretend to pay me.
Morgen: I love that. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Kerri: I host the RWA Bog Bite, interviewing members. I’m a proof-reader for the ARRA magazine and I’m an active member of both Port Macquarie’s Writers Group and 4 Points Author Network. All of which help me and help others in their chosen career.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? 🙂
Kerri: Family, family, family and I can tie a snake in a knot with my tongue.
Morgen: <laughs> Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Kerri: I think the world wide web is an invaluable tool but can also hinder your ‘writing’. Procrastination on FB or Twitter etc can absorb time. I do think though you need them as we are digital era. You just need to be strong and allocate time. I use my blog, my web, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and a few loops on yahoo. I’m sure there are many, many more but I’m time poor and my emails don’t get scene to for a couple of days as it is even though I have an iPhone.
Morgen: Oh, I’m rubbish at all that. Ping alt/tab (or cmd/tab in my case, I have a Mac). What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Kerri: I think a writer needs to keep up with the trends and market especially with global economy, self-publishing authors popping up everywhere, amazon’s 99cent books etc. All these and more are important factors to their career.
Morgen: They are. With even established authors self-pubbing eBooks it’s certainly an interesting time. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Kerri: My website http://kerri-williams.com.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Kerri: Thank you for having me here Morgen. It’s people, bloggers, other writers and authors like you that through these interviews provide a wide range of information and opinions to help others.
If anyone has any questions of their own they can contact me anytime via kerriwilliamsauthor @ yahoo.com.au
Thanks again for all your time.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, I enjoy it. Thank you, Kerri. 🙂
I then invited Kerri to include an excerpt of her writing…
The words were there—Dean Stone. Only her throat restricted the sound.
“I knew it was you,” he said.
She wasn’t sure, but she thought she heard a hint of triumph or possibly accusation in his tone.
“It’s been a long time, Livinia.”
“Dean.” It came out in a whisper and more like a question than a statement. After all this time, why is he here?
There was something tugging at her mind, something important she knew she should be more worried about than anything else, but her mind wouldn’t cooperate.
Before she could decipher what was so important, Dean’s voice invaded the fog.
“Is that all you have to say to me?”
The dark, challenging look in his eyes made the blood simmer within her veins. Even in the dim light of the station’s security lights, she found herself glued to his vivid brown eyes.
Once upon a time, she would have bathed in their brilliant depths with love and passion, lured like a deer to headlights.
Now, sadly and dangerously, was no different.
Kerri is an Australian Author with a love for romance and suspense so it was no wonder this love spilled out onto the pages of her novels ~ TAKING BACK HIS WIDOW & her latest NUDGING CUPID. She lives on the Mid North Coast of NSW (Australia) with the luxury of the lush country with it’s rolling green and golden hills and the coast with its sparkling sea and clean beaches at her doorstep. With such beauty readily available it made it easy to incorporated what Australia has to offer in her novels’ scenery.
Kerri has been writing on and off since she was sixteen when she met the love of her life-her dear husband, and between having two beautiful daughters Kerri kept on writing with the dream of sharing her love for all things romance and suspense with other readers.
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