Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Katherine Holmes, The Wide Awake Loons, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR: Katherine L. Holmes
BOOK TITLE:  The Wide Awake Loons
GENRE:  Children’s Fiction
PUBLISHER:  Silver Knight Publishing, LLC
I would be happy to do a Kindle gift giveaway of The Wide Awake Loons. Please be sure to leave contact information to be included in the drawing.

Please tell us about yourself.

I’ve lived in Minnesota all my life, growing up in Southern Minnesota, spending twelve years in the Twin Cities, and then moving to Duluth.  I had vacationed in Northern Minnesota all those years.  In the last fifteen years, I’ve worked with new and used books, at bookstores, stores that also sold antiques, and on the internet.

Please tell us your latest news.   

2013 is the year of two book releases.  The Wide Awake Loons was published by Silver Knight Publishing, LLC and The Swan Bonnet was published by Enigma Press.  Although the books are both about protected waterfowl, they are not a series and written quite differently.  The Swan Bonnet is a YA historical novel.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

Most years as a writer, I have pursued creative writing part-time.  I think I established my routines when I was a newspaper reporter.  That was the only period when I was a full-time writer.  But I found myself starting short stories at home.  I was writing so much that the creative genre was relaxing.  After that, I went for an M.A. in Writing during which my habits became established for the next years.  That degree, partly gotten for teaching qualifications, required courses and papers that took up time, and while being a teaching assistant.  I began writing fiction mornings when my creative energy was fresh, and writing poetry towards evening.  Since, I've combined work and writing with the same schedule.  Sometimes I edit in the afternoon.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing on my own as a child.  My first little editorials were about a cat that ran away and a plum tree struck by lightning.  I attempted a novel about a flood in grade school but gave up on that genre until I was in my twenties.  I think that loss inspires me.

What inspired you to write your first book?

The Midwestern farming crisis may have inspired my first long book for children, still unpublished but readied for it.  We knew a farmer who lost his small farm in the 1960s, an eccentric who made a good story.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

Writer's block makes me feel as if I'm doing things in slow motion.  I've found that difficult days sometimes result in the strongest passages.  I used to force the words out anyway, but getting away from the keyboard, seeing people, or exercising sometimes jolts things.  Fact-checking and absorbing more about the subject matter often helps.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

I learned the importance of plotting from The Wide Awake Loons.  My fiction was usually character-driven and loosely plotted at the start.  Perhaps because I was dealing with loon characters, I thought on this book first and outlined its action better than with other novels.  I learned that if I could do this, I would write without so much uncertainty and re-cast the novel less.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

Silver Knight Publishing, LLC published The Wide Awake Loons.  I found a posting about them at Goodreads and, visiting their site, immediately liked their presentation and their list. Then I followed their submission guidelines.  They requested the full manuscript after which it was accepted.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

The Wide Awake Loons is about a loon family and a girl who, canoeing with her friends, becomes involved in rescuing the loons.  Because loons are usually heard and not seen, the stories develop apart from each other.   The danger in the book is based on real issues that loons face in the Northern Minnesotan setting.

Why do you feel qualified to write a children’s or teen novel?

Out of college, I didn't plan to work with children, however my first job at a publisher's was with curriculum.  After that, reporting for a suburban county newspaper, I was assigned articles on day care.  So when I went for a masters in writing, my first teaching assistant assignment was the English Department's Children's Literature course.  I was an avid reader of children's novels during my grade school years.  I had grown used to children's print materials.  Later, working in bookstores, I encountered many young people.

Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done?

My first children's book was The House in Windward Leaves which placed as Finalist in the 2103 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the 2103 National Indie Excellence Book Awards.   Before that, I had poetry and short stories published in journals.  Then a short story collection, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories, was published in 2012 by Hollywood Books International.

Why did you choose to write a children’s book?

When writing short genres, a children’s story turned into a short novel.  That happened again and then again.  Having done one juvenile novel, I was ready to go forward with another.

What comes first: the plot or characters?

Character for me.  In envisioning a character, other characters and setting begin to appear.  The character has an aim, a personal destination.  Conflict comes at the horizon.  That's when I usually begin to plot.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?

I read quite a bit about loons before ever starting the book.  While writing, I did more research on plants and the other animals in the story.


What do you do when you’re not writing?

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

I look for originality, revealing material, and humor.  I guess that's why I read children's literature as an adult.  In adult literature, I look for a balanced book with convincing characters and absorbing concerns.  Life itself is full of emotions.   I often prefer books that spotlight more than one character and that cover more than one perspective.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?

The author doesn't really know the character(s), stereotypes them, and uses them for a purpose or for status.  The author doesn't understand the subject well enough for the story.   Emotions are too limited.  I know that when life goes to its lowest, people can laugh in adjustment.  I prefer people who see the humor in life and those who can feel the pain.  I don't read fiction for the head since I often read non-fiction. 

Here is the synopsis for The Wide Awake Loons:

Ten-year-old Ginny and her mother are opening up the cabin where her family stays during the summer. On an otherwise quiet day, Ginny hears a male loon, Yudel, sparring with a younger bird over territory. Canoeing with her friend, Wes, Ginny discovers a loon nest on an island. They quickly find themselves protecting the defenseless eggs against predators. On a later visit, Ginny finds Yudel drifting in the water, a fishing line trailing from his beak. Ginny's attachment to the loons brings her to find inner strength. During the summer, the loons raise three loonlings. Now faced with many dangers, Yudel and his mate, Owala, will put their courage to the test. Follow the journey of Ginny and the loons as their stories unite . . .

I would be happy to do a Kindle gift giveaway ofThe Wide Awake Loons.

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