Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blog Tour: BLUE STRAGGLER by Kathy Lynn Harris: Q&A and Guest Post

Kathy grew up in rural South Texas — and comes from people who work hard, love the land and know how to have a good time on a Saturday night. As a writer, Kathy was lucky to have been surrounded by exceptional characters throughout her life, many of whom have lived their lives exactly the way they wanted. The rest of the world could take `em or leave `em! Inspiring, to say the least.

In 2001, Kathy made the move from Texas to the Colorado Rockies to focus on her writing and soak up All Things Mountain. She lives in an authentic log cabin near the southernmost glacier in North America, at 10,500 feet above sea level, with her husband and son, plus two fairly untrainable golden retriever mixes. It is there that she writes.

Read more from Kathy on her blog, You Can Take the Girl Out of Texas but...

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Follow the tour via Chick Lit Plus HERE

Q.  What inspires your writing?

Luckily, I can usually find inspiration anywhere … from a crowded, noisy coffee shop to people-watching on a quiet small-town main street. But mostly, ideas seem to come at me from all directions when I’m out alone, hiking on a secluded mountain trail. There’s just something about the rawness of the mountains—the wildlife, the flora, the rock formations, the pine and aspen trees—that seems to fuel my brain, even if I’m not writing anything nature-related at the moment. And it’s easy for me to get out on those kinds of trails; I live at the top of a mountain in Colorado in a log cabin, with trails out my back door. Not a bad way to live the writerly life!

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?

Feeling such a sense of joy and accomplishment when a reader tells me they enjoyed my work — that it meant something to them. Whether my words and storytelling can make someone laugh or cry or just think a little more deeply, that’s what it’s all about for me. Oh yeah, and royalty checks are occasionally nice, too. Ha!

 Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?

For me, it is the need to throw myself into publicity once a novel is out into the universe. As my publicist, Laura Pepper Wu says, books don’t sell themselves. That’s especially true for works like mine that are quiet novels, character-based. Promoting my work and myself as an author doesn’t come naturally to me, and I have to force myself to do it! It’s uncomfortable and I’d rather just lock my bedroom door and come out when the book is selling well. I would love to be a famous recluse of a writer some day, like J.D. Salinger. (Hope Laura isn’t reading this.)

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?

I have two versions of this in my head. One is what I’d be if I wasn’t an author and I didn’t have a family that I have to keep fed and clothed. In that scenario, I’d be a backcountry park ranger who spends her days roaming canyons and mountain trails and every now and then educating Americans about the true treasure we have in our nation’s protected lands. The second scenario is a meteorologist. I’m fascinated by weather and if it weren’t for blasted Chemistry 101 at Texas A&M University (which kicked my butt!), I’d be working for the National Weather Service today, or chasing tornados for The Weather Channel.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

That’s a tough one! How about: Lucky Mountain Girl, Sassy Texan at Heart

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

Another tough one! I could never choose just one. But at the top of the fiction list would Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Anne Lamott’s Hard Laughter and Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?

Well, I still see myself, as I did when I was a kid, as Pippi Longstocking! But I suppose I’m more like Jo March from Little Women. I also always identified with Pam Houston’s protagonists in her collection, Cowboys Are My Weakness.

Q.  What character from all of your book(s) are you most like?

I’ll admit there’s a good part of Bailey, the main character, in me. For instance, we both share a love of Cool Whip and tequila, and I’m probably just as flawed as she is on any given day.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

That depends! In Colorado, summer and early fall are both amazing and I love, love, love everything about it. I go for hikes every evening and spend entire days and nights on the weekends without ever stepping foot inside my house. But in Texas, summer heat and I do not get along. Back home, spring is my favorite season. I love those Texas wildflowers and spring rains. 

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book(s).

Recently, I posted on my blog a funny kind of story … involving my reconsideration of Spanx shapewear in advance of my book tour in Texas. Basically, I felt I needed to warn people who haven’t seen me in 15 years what I now look like. (At least it was supposed to be funny!)

Q.  Are you working on something new?

I’m putting the finishing touches on my second novel, A Good Kind of Knowing, which should be released as an eBook this summer, if all goes according to plan. It’s also set in Texas, but this time in a small Central Texas rural town.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

Thanks for reading a little bit more about me. And thanks for considering giving my novel, Blue Straggler, a chance. You can always check out a sample first via Amazon before committing.

The Ups and Downs of Writing a Novel Everyone Thinks Is Autobiographical

Thank you so much to Emily for hosting me here on her outstanding blog. As a fellow mommy booknerd, I’m just thrilled to be a part of your community, and I appreciate you allowing me to guest post!

I thought for this last guest post of my CLP Blog Tour, I would tackle a subject that’s been on my mind a lot lately as I attend book promotion events and interact with old and new friends: the fact that everyone wants to know if Blue Straggler is autobiographical. Is the main character, Bailey, really me? Are Rudy and Idamarie, two of the other central characters in the novel, based on real people? Did I actually live in a barn at some point?

My answer time and again is no, Bailey is not me, and Rudy and Idamarie are composite characters, made up purely in my imagination (but likely based on types of people I’ve known).

But some readers don’t believe me, and I have to give them a little credit for their assumptions. After all, I, like Bailey, grew up in a rural South Texas family. I attended Texas A&M, just like Rudy and Bailey did. And I left Texas and landed in the mountains of Colorado on a search for what truly made me happy. And yes, for the record, I enjoy vats of wine, Cool Whip and coffee about as much as Bailey does in the novel. My journey and my upbringing in some ways are quite similar to Bailey’s, and I was able to leverage the old adage “write what you know” as I developed the storyline and characters. But that’s where the crossroads of Bailey and me, the author, end. (I promise!)

It all begs the question, though: Is it a bad thing to have readers believe with all their hearts that the book is about your life? Let’s sort this out.

Pros: We humans are profoundly curious about other people’s lives. Read: We are damn nosy! That curiosity, I’m sure, has brought me a few book sales here and there from people who have known me in various stages of life and want some scoopage. And hey, a sale is a sale! Plus, I’ve had friends tell me that they loved the novel most of all because they could hear my voice as the voice of Bailey. So this is all good stuff, I think.

Cons: Have I mentioned that Bailey is one messed up and flawed character? I mean, she drinks a lot. And she sleeps around a lot. She smokes. She makes some bad choices. She has a strained relationship with her family. So if readers really believe Bailey is me … my reputation is probably at all-time low. I’m sure my family at this point would love for me to have written under a pseudonym.

I haven’t decided yet if the pros outweigh the cons. What do you, readers of this awesome blog, think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In the meantime, if you decide to give Blue Straggler a try, please keep in mind that a) I have never known anyone whose wife was mauled by a mountain lion, and b) I have never, nor do I intend to, drive a tow truck to make extra money. (I do, however, enjoy Beer Nuts and Dr Pepper regularly.)

Thanks for reading!




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Emily, AKA Mrs. Mommy Booknerd

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