Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and sixty-eighth, is of non-fiction author Kerry Dwyer.
She now lives with her husband and daughter in the South West of France. Following the birth of her daughter she gave up finance and retrained as an English teacher (TEFL).
She currently teaches English as a foreign language to adults by telephone and internet. Ramblings in Ireland is her first book.
And now from the author herself:
The journey in the book is only half the story of the journey of the book but I will start with that. As we were walking and talking the germ of an idea formed that I should write all this down at some time. Each day we went on a new journey together. In French the word journée means day or daytime that was very relevant to us as we journeyed not only through Ireland but through each others lives. Each day we found out a little more about each other. Although we have been together for years we had never spent quite so much time together alone and with nothing more to do than walk and talk.
When we came home to France I wanted to write the diary of the significant of this holiday. I started writing about the walks and the conversations and as my mind wandered off at tangents I started to write those down as well. When we had been in Ireland a lot of ideas had already started to formulate so the book almost wrote itself. It was a great pouring out of some things that I hadn’t thought about for years and some things that were very recent. They were all somehow linked together in that one week in that one idea. The story grew and changed and became the book. It was as I was writing the book that I realised how important that week had been and how Bertrand and I had moved closer.
I don’t find it easy to sit down and focus on something for a long time and I am not very good at finishing things. The number of projects I have half started is always growing. I became interested in the writing process and found some competitions on the internet for finished manuscripts. This gave me the impetus to get on and complete it. I always work better when I have a deadline. The book was duly sent off for the competition and came no where. It was bound not to really as I hadn’t had it proof read or edited or beat read. It was very raw. I didn’t mind that at all the competition had done its job and my manuscript was ready for the next stage. There was a lot to do when it came back from Beta and proofreaders. I am lucky that I have friends who are very generous with their time and also not afraid to give criticism where it is due.
It was because of their positive feedback that I decided to go ahead and try to get the book published. I had not really heard of many people publishing their own books and people used ‘vanity press’ as though it were a dirty word so I tried to find a publisher. The rejection letters were not bad, they were obviously standard with the same lines virtually in each one telling me that I didn’t fit into their niche. The silences were worse I thought. Not one to flog a dead horse I resigned myself to the long list of would be published authors and put my book away. I was still in some way quite proud of the achievement, I had written a book. People had read it and liked it, even if they were my family and friends.
I had started a blog some time before the trip to Ireland. I tried to write at least a post a week and I was toying with the idea of posting parts of the book as blog posts. Then I had a problem with aligning my pictures. I couldn’t get the pictures on a particular post called ‘Eat that frog’ to line up. I asked for help on the social networks and I met Joel Canfield who kindly offered his assistance. He sorted out my picture problem and he had also explored my blog. He had found my proud post from when I had finished my book and was certain that some publisher would take it up and publish it. Joel sent me some of his snapshots from Ireland, I sent him some of mine. He wanted to know when my book would be published. This was our conversation via LinkedIn:
Me ‘You might wait a long time to read Ramblings. I haven’t even had a nibble. I did think about doing it myself but I think if there has not even been a nibble from a publisher then it probably isn’t again good’.
Joel “I’m curious what makes you equate nibbles from publishers with quality? Publishers have one deciding factor: money. Unless they’re sure your book will make more money than any other manuscript they’ve been offered, they’ll ignore you. It has nothing to do with quality. If your story is worth telling, tell it. A good editor can take a good story and make it great. Don’t wait to be picked. Pick yourself and ship your art.”
That was a very significant conversation. It lead me to not only being published but also to reassessing my feelings about my work, and its worth. I also discovered that hundreds of other worthy people with wonderful stories are doing just that.
Joel helped me to prepare my manuscript for publication and shepherded my though the process. We exchanged hundreds of emails and a few hours of SKYPE calls. He pointed out weak areas and helped me to make them stronger. So now I am a published author and that is still not the end of the story. Without the backing of a big publicity machine like one of the big publishing houses I need to make my work visible to my potential audience. So that it what I am doing. I am seeking reviews by sending out hundreds of review copies and I am giving author interviews and guest posts in the hope that I make myself a little more visible. To write is human to be read divine.
My friends and family are all really thrilled for me and very supportive. My mother did the artwork for the book for me. She is a Chinese water colour artist and she painted the picture of the Beara peninsular for me. She has been a great support throughout, reading excerpts and allowing me to tell some of her stories in my book. My dad read a very early draft and his comments were really helpful in pulling together the final version. My husband doesn’t read in English so it was difficult for him to relate to this book. He is very proud that I have a published book and was so supportive and helpful when I wanted the time to write. I hadn’t told him that I had dedicated it to him. He bought it on his Kindle and was very moved. He has since read the whole book which shows dedication and devotion.
I then invited Kerry to provide an extract from her book…
After the hardware shop we found a small supermarket and bought some lunch to take on our walk that afternoon. I needed to buy some shampoo as well. I had put the empty bottle into my wash bag instead of the full bottle. We had used the shampoo provided at the B&B.
I was selecting some cold meats and salads from the chill cabinet when I heard Bertrand call me excitedly from the sandwich counter. I went over to where two shop assistants were serving freshly made hot and cold snacks to take away. What had excited Bertrand so much was the “deal of the day” – Full Irish Breakfast in a baguette.
What more could a French man want out of life?
We bought one for Bertrand. I chose what I wanted and we drove up the Beara Peninsula. The car soon filled with the smell from the still-warm ingredients in the baguette. We had to pull into a lay-by so Bertrand could wolf down his second breakfast of the day, improved immeasurably with the addition of French bread.
And a synopsis…
Ramblings in Ireland is the story of one particular walking trip and the memories and musings that it inspired. It is not a guide book for rambling in Ireland
British ex-patriate Kerry and her husband explore the West of Ireland. Kerry’s inability to read maps and Bertrand’s insistence that she leads means that they inevitably go off the beaten track. This leads them to reflect and reminisce on upon accents and accidents, family and friends, love and what it means to be alive.
It is a book with a lot of meanderings and tangents. Kerry discusses French versus English and Irish culture viewed through her own and her husband’s eyes. She talks about life in France and growing in England.
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