I first met Kerrie Flanagan on a cold December morning in 2010 as I walked past the Northern Colorado Writers studio. She was just opening up for the day. More on that story in an April post.

Kerrie Flanagan

Kerrie Flanagan

Since then I’ve learned a ton about writing and she’s learned something about fly fishing. It’s been a good trade-off, except lately she’s been catching bigger fish than I.

But that’s okay…I’ve got one essay coming out in Chicken Soup and she’s only had 5. No, wait. I mean I’ve had one magazine article published and she’s only had 130. No wait, I’m working on book and she’s published one. No wait…Hey Kerrie, you ever had a poem published? Ha…I think I’ve finally got you there!

Anyway, thanks to Kerrie for all her support over the past two years and for taking time to answer a few questions for us today.

1) Your children’s book Cornelius Comma was published in 1998.  Currently you are firmly entrenched in writing an adult fiction novel. Which has proven the greater challenge and why?

I self-published Cornelius Comma Save the Day back in 1998. It was a different publishing world back then. Everything was done by snail mail, there was no Print on Demand and the Internet was just starting up. So asking which has been the greater challenge is a bit of a challenge to answer. In terms of the writing, the novel has been more difficult. I wrote Cornelius when I was student teaching second graders and was teaching them about punctuation. I was determined to come up with a way to teach them about commas that would be fun and memorable. So the night before my lesson, I wrote and illustrated the book. It worked and the kids had a good understanding of using commas in a list. The novel, which is women’s fiction, has not been that easy. Of course it is longer, but  the whole idea of trying to create compelling characters, good dialogue and an intriguing storyline sometimes feels like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands; there is a lot of splashing about and frustration over missing the target.

Cornelius Comma Saves the Day

Cornelius Comma Saves the Day

But once my novel is done and edited, I think the publishing and marketing of my novel will be easier then what I experienced with the picture book. Granted I have more experience now, but with the Internet and so many options for publishing, seeing my book in print will be an easier road, especially if I choose the independent route again. With Cornelius, I had to find an illustrator, find a printer, order books and then “hit the pavement” to do most of the marketing. Now, with print on demand options, it allows me to keep my garage free of boxes of books and the Internet allows me to do marketing without having to leave home as much. 
 
2) Your latest past time fly fishing gets you out of the house/office/writer’s den on occasion. Compare the sense of accomplishment completing an article to that of landing a big rainbow trout.

An Average Catch for Her-

An Average Catch for Her-

The whole process of writing for magazines is a lot like fishing. I come up with an idea and research some potential markets (this is like finding the perfect fishing spot). Once I find where I want to send the ideas, I write up the queries (similar to figuring out which flies to tie on my line). Then I wait hoping something bites. When a magazine contacts me with an assignment it is like setting the hook. At this point the adrenaline is starting to course through me.  Now the real work begins because I have to write the article (or in the case of fishing, I have to reel it in–not always an easy task). The article is finished and I hit the send button. Awesome feeling, but still a small chance it might not make it in to the publication. (still reeling in my fish who is putting up a fight). The article is accepted, I get my copy in the mail and see it in print (I get the fish in the net). This is the moment where there is an incredible adrenaline rush and an amazing “high” that is hard to explain. But it is because of these times that I continue to write and I continue to fish, hoping I will get to experience more of these moments.

3) You’ve been considering self-publishing some of your work. How’s that coming along?

Like I said earlier, this is an exciting time in publishing because there are so many great options with independent publishing. My hope is to get out 2-3 nonfiction books this year. Two out of the three already have a lot of content written so those won’t be too hard to put together. The other one is something I am working on with another writer and we are starting from scratch, but because there are two of us, it shouldn’t take too long.

Can I have a soapbox moment? I love the idea of independent publishing, but I take it seriously. And by that I mean with any book I will put out,  I will have it professionally edited (and I don’t mean having my best friend read it), a professional graphic designer do the cover and create a marketing plan. Publishing is a business and should be treated like one. Yes, the process of publishing on demand is easy, but that doesn’t mean writers should put out books that are poorly written, edited and formatted. We have a responsibility to our readers to provide them with a quality book that shows we value them and their time. (*Stepping down from the soapbox)
 
4) There are over 130 clips with your byline, one children’s book and I’m sure more things out there. Do you still get nervous to hit the enter/send key when you are querying a magazine you haven’t worked with before?

Absolutely. I don’t second guess my ability to write the article, but I get a little anxious wondering if I caught all the spelling errors, did I send it to the correct editor, will the idea be a good fit and will they like it enough to assign it to me.

5) All of the stars perfectly align on a beautiful, sunny fall day. You can either write without interruption or fly fish dawn-to-dusk. Which do you choose and why?

This is a fun question. Without a doubt I would fly fish. Yes, the Director of a writers organization picks fly fishing over writing. Let me explain. You did say it was a perfect, autumn day. There are not many perfect autumn days for fishing so I would absolutely jump at the chance to be on the river. It gives me a chance to relax and clear my head. There are many days to write and weather is never a factor.  I just need to make sure to schedule my writing days and honor that schedule (unless of course a perfect fishing day falls on one of the days, then all bets are off).

A good day of non-writing

A good day of non-writing

 
6) In the mail arrives a letter, accompanied by a $2000 check. It’s yours to spend, but the only stipulation is you must spend it on one activity alone (i.e. writing, fly fishing, furniture, food, etc.) Where does the cash go?

The cash goes to taking a wonderful 10-day fly fishing trip with husband to Alaska. We go, have a wonderful time, take lots of pictures, catch tons of fish and have the experience of a lifetime. When we get back I send queries to different publications about different aspects of the trip. I end up getting the assignments and making $3,000 off them.

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Okay, so maybe I was wrong about the whole “poem” thing. I’ll check on that…but I digress. Kerrie is giving away four copies of her children’s book Cornelius Comma Saves the Day, one to each of four randomly chosen visitors who leave a comment.

Good luck to everyone who stops by!

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Tracy Bell is the winner (via Random.org) of Justin Slattum’s prints from last week’s contest. Tracy, please send me some contact info so I can mail you the prints!  Congrats to Tracy and thanks to everyone who commented.

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