Monday, January 3, 2011

Meet author Anne Holly


Where do you live?
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Currently, I live in Ontario, Canada, but I am from Canada's east coast, originally. It's been a bit of a culture shock, but I enjoy living where I am now. Lots of water and trees--the essentials for me.
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How/why did you start to write?
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I don't really remember when exactly I started, because I think I always have written--or at least made up stories. I remember being very young and telling stories to my mum during thunder storms to keep her mind off them, because she had a strong fear of lightening. I did it because I loved reading and was good at telling my own. It wasn't a conscious decision, for the most part, though. I did it because it came naturally to me. At first, I did it to amuse myself, and then to impress teachers. I continued doing it as a creative outlet as I grew up, because I was in academics and I needed to burn off some imagination.
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How did you break into the publishing world?
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I had a manuscript, and looked online for a small publisher who might want it. They did. It was a simple process, really, and I was more lucky than I was strategic.
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What was your first publication?
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My very first publications were in junior high--some short stories, essays and poems. Then some academic non-fiction. My first romance accepted was my full length due out in May 2011, but my first professional fiction was a paranormal erotic short that I wrote after that acceptance with the hopes that a few shorts would build up my name before my full length came out.
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For how many years have you been an author?
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I've only been professionally published since October 2010, so I am new. Been writing a long time, though.
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In what genre do you write?
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My primary genre is contemporary romance, but I also write some erotica.
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Have you tried other genres?
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I have tried all sorts. I have some experience in non-fiction, and poetry, and playwriting. I am working on a screen play, as well. I have tried horror (which turned out awful) and mystery (which resulted in some lame, lame, lame material), and some melodramatic "literature", which I tried when I was way too young to have enough perspective and experience to do well at. I have written some comedy, which I enjoy, but I find it quite challenging. I am currently planning on starting a historical romance soon, which is exciting.
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How did you choose your genre?
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My genre sort of chose me--my mum was a big romance reader, so I used to burn through her stacks when I ran out of my own, and I just sort of grew up with Harlequins and Silhouettes and the ilk. Then, when my voice started developing and I realized I had a way with character and motivation, romance just seemed to be the natural fit for me. Erotica was done as an experiment, just to see if I could do it--it seems I could, so I ran with it.
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I understand that as well as being an author you also teach, what do you teach? Is it an asset to your writing career? How?
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I teach at a university, and most of my books involve professors and/or students, as well as the campus environment or academic social scene in some way, so it has directly contributed that way. I find mental labourers fascinating--a lot of colourful characters inhabit that world. The subject matter I teach, which is cultural studies, also helps because I can use what I know about society to build realistic character motivations and responses. My academic research is actually in romance as mythic institution in modern life, so I have an intimate knowledge of the genre, its history and body, and the ways it effects audiences, so it has been an enormous help!
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What inspires you?
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I fantasize a lot, and always have done--that is my main inspiration. Music, movies, books, they all contribute. Nature is a big deal to me, as well, and the moods in most of my books are driven by the landscapes or environments, and especially the weather. My son is always an inspiration--everyday life as a mom, scholar, woman...My life inspires me.
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Please describe your daily writing routine.
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I have a 2 year old and I work, so I write whenever I can, really, especially at night. I try to bag at least 1, 000 words a day, whether I am in the mood or not. I treat it like a job or assignment, and I just power through. As to the specific secrets of how to write... I drink coffee. Lots of coffee. And learning how to type quietly, no matter how exciting the scene is, so as to not wake up the tot.
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Please share one of your successful marketing techniques.
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So far, I have not had much of a budget for marketing, which has not been helpful, but you can find a lot of free marketing opportunities, so I use those.
Right now, I am concentrating on trying to connect with readers instead of other writers, which is something I think a lot of us are doing incorrectly. It is good to talk to other writers, of course, but they aren't the ones buying the books. I am still trying to connect with readers, which will be my focus for 2011. That is where setting up profiles at point-of-sale sites, such as Amazon, is important. I am planning on doing a book festival this summer, as well.
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I think my most successful decisions so far included releasing a bunch of shorts to build my name up, and to publish with multiple companies. And giving some copies away to increase exposure and word of mouth. By the time my full length, Strings Attached, comes out in May 2011, my name will already be branded a bit, which will be a help, I think.
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Please share advice for the aspiring/emerging author.
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Read, of course. Read lots, and of all genres. Think about what you are reading--the words, and grammar, and structure, and design. Read good stuff, and bad stuff. Think about your favourite authors, and what they do, both on the page and off. See yourself doing that, and consider what you'd do differently.
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Treat editing seriously--aim for a clean first draft, but always aim for improvement right up until your work is on sale, because then it is too late, and what you wrote belongs to the ages after that. Learn from your beta readers and editors, and take their feedback very seriously--and try to improve with every story, every page.
Write what you know, but don't take that advice too literally--it's not "write what you know," as much as it is "write what you feel", if that makes sense. You can write about things you've never done or places you've never been, as long as the emotions and "truth" behind it come from yourself. Without that, everything just comes off forced and shallow.
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But, most importantly of all: WRITE. Don't wait for inspiration of the perfect conditions--just go ahead and write. I have a project in development for every season, with deadlines and a publisher in mind right from the beginning, so I know, come rain or shine, I will produce. (my "work in progress" schedule is currently booked with four full lengths and several shorts a year until winter 2013.) That's the only way to "be a writer", and the only way to get polished at it. Talking about being a writer "some day" doesn't do it. When people say to me that they want to write a book "some day," I always ask them why they aren't doing it right now. There will never be a better time than now, because that is all we have.
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Anne Holly is a Canadian writer of contemporary and erotic romance, and has been published with Wild Horse Press, Wicked Nights and Decadent Publishing. Anne is working on two new full length novels at the moment, one of which was written in rough draft during National Novel Writing Month 2010. She is currently looking forward to the release of her Valentine's Day entry in her holiday erotic-romance shorts series from Wicked Nights, as well as her first full length contemporary romance. Strings Attached (Wild Horse Press). You can learn more about Anne at her website (http://www.anneholly.webs.com/) and blog (http://anneholly.blogspot.com)
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One commentor on today's interview will win a PDF copy of their choice of Anne's paranormal erotic short (Waking Kara, Wild Horse Press), Christmas erotic romance short (Good for the Goose, Wicked Nights) or Christmas contemporary romance short (Unwrapping Scrooge, Decadent Publishing). One winner will be selected at random!
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Thank you, Anne, for visiting.
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Today, Decadent Publishing's chief editor Heather Bennett wishes you a happy new year and invites you to join her fight (http;//decadentpublishing.blogspot.com)
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Does your muse need a kick in the butt? I found it here: http://storyfix.com
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This week's theme is visiting. Tomorrow and Thursday I will be visiting Anne's blog. Friday I will be visiting the Daily Dose of Decadence and Katherine Gallagher's blog. Wednesday I will report back about my visit with a friend.
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Next post: Apologizing to the Yarn Harlot

5 comments:

Maureen said...

I can really see that what you teach would be helpful in the writing. Gives you some real credentials to work with. Sounds fascinating as a subject matter, too!

Kathleen Ann Gallagher's Place to Reflect said...

Thanks for a great interview, Anne. You've been busy in 2010. I hope 2011 brings you continued success.

I agree with you about writing what you know, but most inportantly what you feel.

Leanne Dyck said...

Yes, thank you, Anne. It was a pleasure having you visit my blog. I wish you much success with your writing career.

Decadent Publishing said...

Hi Anne...

Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself. Decadent Publishing is very lucky to have you as one of our authors!

Anne Holly said...

Hi folks! Sorry for being late to this. My son started daycare this week, so things have been full of excitement. :)

I'll be in touch with the winner soon.

Thanks for having me, Leanne!