I follow Lake Union Authors on Facebook, where I met Kerry Schafer, who also publishes under the pen name of Kerry Anne King. She graciously agreed to share her writing life with us. I’ve read and reviewed her upcoming release “Whisper Me This.” It’s fantastic! I highly recommend this novel and this author. Pre-order on Amazon.
Elaborate upon your writing process—schedule, including how you mesh that time with family life, and how you measure progress, and your writing environment—whether you have a home office or work at another location, and what inspirations surround you that keep you writing.
I write at 4-of-dark in the morning most weekdays. Literally. I drag my poor, protesting carcass out of bed at 4 am, make coffee, and trudge up the stairs to my writing loft. This is the best way I’ve figured out to make sure I actually get my writing done, because if I wait until after work, I’m generally too tired and grumpy to be effective at writing. I also often write with a buddy—that way I have a scheduled time to show up and somebody to be accountable to. I also have an office away from home for my creativity coaching business, and I write there too sometimes, on weekends or evenings when I need a space away from the house to think and concentrate.
When I’m drafting, it works for me to set word count goals. That way, even when the writing isn’t going well, or I’m in one of those inevitable phases where it seems like the whole book sucks, I still feel like I’m making progress.
Shadow Valley Manor series
Explain why you use a pseudonym and the benefits of doing so…..also how you keep track of both authorships!
I use a pseudonym because Lake Union, the publisher for my women’s fiction titles, insisted that I have one. I resisted, in all honesty, but they were probably right to ask this of me. My two brands are very different and that can be off-putting to readers. As Kerry Schafer I write fantasy and paranormal thrillers. As Kerry Anne King I write contemporary family dramas (although the book I’m writing now does have a touch of magical realism that makes my fantasy-loving-heart happy). Keeping track is fairly straight forward—Kerry leans to the dark side; Kerry Anne leans toward relationships and emotions.
Describe your support system: beta readers, publishing team, Lake Union author collective, and any other cheerleaders.
I have an awesome group of support people, starting at home with my Viking. He is my biggest supporter and my first reader. After I’ve completed a draft and made a few revisions, he reads for continuity—he is forever shaking his head about my timelines, omissions, and the way my characters mishandle guns. I have several close writer friends who then read and critique for me.
The Between series
Walk me through the publishing process, from finishing the story to final product, as in who does what and how long it takes.
This process has been different at every publishing house I’ve been with. I love how it all works out at Lake Union. After my book is accepted and a contract is signed, I have a delivery date. On or before that date (I always aim for before—my motto is to under-promise and over-deliver whenever possible), I turn the manuscript in to my awesome editor. She gives it a read, usually within a week or two, and sends it back with some suggestions. Once those changes are implemented, the manuscript goes to my developmental editor. She reads and sends back revision notes. Typically I’ll have about three weeks for revisions. Then she reads again. There can be several rounds of this back and forth process during developmental edits.
Once the book is accepted by the developmental editor, the book goes to the copy editor. Within about a month it comes back to me and I have a couple of weeks to work through the copy editing process. From there it goes to production, and shortly thereafter I’ll get proof pages to review.
Somewhere in there other things happen. At Lake Union I get to review and give an opinion about cover concepts (this was not the case with other publishers). I also get to review and make revisions to back cover copy.
And then the magical elves turn the whole thing into a book and it gets published and people get to read it. Yay!!
The Dream Wars series
What do you love most about your creativity?
There is so much that I love—there really isn’t a “most.” I love ideas and the way they pop into my head randomly while I’m in the shower or mowing the lawn or driving to work. I love creating characters. I love putting words together in ways that sound like music to me. I guess what I love the very most are the unexpected surprises that happen in a book—the times where I think I know what I’m doing and what is going to happen, and then a character asks, “What about this?” and there’s a plot twist I never saw coming.
But there were far too many years of my life where I didn’t value my creativity or give it priority space. It used to come “after”—after work, after kids, after making my husband happy, after doing this, that, and everything in between, which meant that I didn’t do consistent writing. It also meant I was depressed, unfulfilled, and bitchy a lot. Recently, I’ve become a creativity coach on a mission to help other creatives get out of that trap. My business is called Swimming North: Where Creative Wellness Meets the Myers-Briggs. In short speak—”swimming north” is a metaphor for striking out in your own direction and going your own way. (There are penguins involved and you can read about it here) I believe that creativity is part of wellness, just as essential as mind, body, and spirit.
I’m a certified Kaizen-Muse coach, which means my coaching philosophy embraces the non-linear nature of the creative process, while using tools that are personally empowering, are not guilt inducing, and help clients learn to navigate the various things that get in the way of creativity (procrastination, harsh self talk, fear, doubt, and resistance are some of the usual suspects). I’m also a certified Myers-Briggs practitioner, and I find that knowing your Myers-Briggs type is incredibly helpful in understanding your creative process. I’m also an RN and happen to be a licensed mental health counselor, so those tools are always hanging around waiting to be useful.
I met Steven Carr in the Facebook writing group Fiction Writing. He has astonished us all with his work, sharing each new story he has gotten published, recently surpassing 100 short stories in various publications. His complete list (so far!) is at the end of the interview. Steve is full of surprises and delights in life. He is friendly, intelligent, and more interesting the longer you talk with him, as whatever he shares urges more questions. I’m honored to share him with my readers. Find him online at Facebook and Twitter.
Tell me about your writing style.
“I type my initial draft, which is my only draft. I haven’t written anything longhand since I learned how to type while I was in high school, which was over forty years ago. I usually write a story in 2-3 days. I was trained when I was a journalist to write fast and edit while I write. I write only one draft, make sure it is as error free as possible, and submit it right away. Motivation is almost entirely internal. Where it comes from, I don’t have a clue. Writing for me is like an itch that I have to constantly scratch.
I don’t really have a schedule, but I tend to write early in the day and late in the evening. Sometimes I’m so excited about a story I’m working on, I work on it all day and forget to stop to eat. I just sit down at the computer, procrastinate a little while I see what’s happening on Facebook or in the news, and then get down to the business of writing. I have an office set up. It’s crowded with photographs, books, paintings, and art pieces. It’s a good place just to sit back and pretend I’m in a museum.”
Tell me what you write about and why.
“I like the literary genre, which I seem to have luck with getting published. I also seem to have a knack for writing speculative fiction, horror and fantasy, all of which I enjoy writing also. I’ve led a very full life, lived in and seen some astonishing places, and met an incredibly large number of people from all backgrounds and ethnicities. My writing is a way to pay homage to those people and places.
I wrote a novel a few years ago that is gathering dust inside my computer. The whole process of writing it was so horrendously tedious and unfulfilling that I vowed never to write another one. I had written plays for a while, and was moderately successful with that, and learned a lot about writing dialogue and setting a scene while doing it, but I’m such a control freak that I didn’t want anyone but me to be in control of how my plays were produced.
The short story form, for me, is easy to construct. I started writing professionally as a military journalist, and the who, what, where, when, and why of journalistic writing fits perfectly into writing short stories. Plus, I have a short attention span, so the fewer words I have to write, the better. Here are the links to a few of my favorites:
My love of the short story form actually began in high school. I was placed in an English Advanced Placement class and the teacher, Mrs. Kurtz, told me I had talent writing short stories, and I was gullible enough to believe her. God bless you Mrs. Kurtz, wherever you are. I’ve had a 50 word story published and a 7,000 word story published. Generally, they fall into the 1,500 to 4,000 word range. I borrow snippets from my life in writing a lot of my literary fiction, and practically nothing from my life when writing other genres. I’m proud to say I’ve borrowed nothing from my life when writing horror stories.”
Describe your submission process.
“I have a subscription to Duotrope. Practically 90% of the publications that I find to submit to, I find on Duotrope. Obviously, I love Duotrope. They should hire me as their spokesperson. The big thing I like about Duotrope is not only how easy I find using their search system, but that they send an email every Sunday that lists publications looking for submissions. It fits perfectly for me as I like to write a story after I see what publications are looking for instead of the other way around. The other 10% I find thanks to getting way too many emails with invitations to submit to one publication or another.
I read carefully what the magazine or anthology is looking for, and if I think I can write a story that matches what they are looking for, then I write the story. I don’t keep a stockpile of stories lying around waiting for a match. I write specifically for what a publication is looking for. I don’t write to make money, but I don’t turn money away for my writing if I can get it. I make sure they are a publication I feel matches my values as a person, meaning they aren’t racist, homophobic, ageist, sexist, and a few other -isms or -ists. I don’t discriminate in regards to the size or prestige of the publication. I want my stories to reach as many different audiences as possible, and the only way to do that is to make sure I submit to a broad variety of publications up and down the prestige scale.”
Describe your support system, receiving and giving.
“Writers are my species. It’s in the interest of all writers to support one another. I support others by buying their books, reading their stories and giving reviews, providing links to publications looking for submissions, and in general just trying to provide encouragement and support. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of encouragement I get from other writers who do something as simple as to Like a post I make on Facebook about a story acceptance. I belong to about ten Facebook writing groups. I’m only really active in about three of them. The others don’t seem to notice my absence. I’m trying to decide if I should take that personally.
I have a personal policy of not giving feedback on any work in progress. Let me make it clear, so that I don’t get hate mail, that this is just my personal opinion: If I tell a writer how to write any part of their story by giving them suggestions or advice, the story is no longer theirs alone, it is now partly my story. Each writer has a unique voice, and when someone else becomes part of the story being written, the writer’s voice becomes diluted, sometimes only very minimally, but even just a little, is still a little. I feel bad when I have to tell a writer I can’t help them by looking at their WIP, but so far no one has threatened to firebomb my house. No one reads any story I’ve written before it’s published. In some ways I’m a very private person, and until they’re published, my stories are very private also.”
How does your writing influence your life, and vice versa?
“I enlisted in the army while I was still in high school and 17, but had to wait until that summer when I turned 18, and after I graduated, before I could actually go into the Army. It was 1972 and the Vietnam war was still going, but beginning to wind down. I wanted to go to Vietnam, not to fight or kill anyone, but to see for myself what war in a foreign country was like before the war ended. I had scored really high in the verbal (written) pre-enlistment test scores and had my choice of among the military schools and occupations.
Because I loved to write, I joined to become a military journalist and was accepted into and sent to the prestigious Defense Information School (DINFOS) which was in Indianapolis at that time and trains journalists for all of the military branches. It was only a ten week program, but it was very intensive, and the only thing taught was journalism, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. If you couldn’t write, they kicked you out. My hopes for going to Vietnam were dashed (I don’t think the military wanted me near anything that I might cause to explode) and I was assigned to the District Recruiting Headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. It was a civilian office and there was usually no more than three of us working in it, and for a long time it was just me. It taught me how to write fast and to feel secure in editing my own work.
For the next 2.5 years, as the war wound down, I traveled around Florida writing stories for newspapers about what I knew was happening in Vietnam, about returning soldiers, and releases about men and women who had enlisted. I lived in a beautiful apartment in a complex with a swimming pool paid for by the military and was given a car to travel around in. During my time there I didn’t spend one day on a military base. If you’ve ever seen the movie Private Benjamin, I led the Army life that she dreamt of. I got out of the Army after three years without stepping foot out of Florida, returned to Cincinnati, where I’m from, started college, and never once thought about taking up journalism as a career. My first college English professor said I should become a poet! I didn’t want to starve to death so I ignored that suggestion.
Writing adds meaning to my life. It gives me another reason to get out of bed in the morning, and I go to bed thinking about what I’m writing or going to write. Writing has connected me with some truly amazing people, writers and non-writers. In some stories, I re-visit themes I’ve already written about, but I hope I’m keeping my eyes open to what is happening in the real world, to explore new themes, and tell new and original stories in innovative ways, while maintaining my style and voice.”
Here’s the list (Note: Some have been accepted but have not been published yet)
Literally Stories “Eleanor”
Sick Lit Magazine “The Tale of the Costume Maker”
Door is a Jar “The Memory of Vision”
SickLit Mag “The Tale of the Cabbage Patch”
Flame Tree Publishing (Dystopia/Utopia Anthology)
Viewfinder Magazine “An Olfactory Life”
Horror Sleaze Trash “Moon of the Forgotten”
Fantasia Divinity Princess Anthology “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”
Fictive Dream “The Missouri River Story”
50 Word Stories “Night Noises”
Centum Press (100 Voices Volume 3) “The Old Chapel Road Story”
Short Tale 100 “Mothering”
Centum Press (100 voices Vol. II) “A Decent Man”
The Spotty Mirror “Point A”
CultureCult Magazine “Opulence”
Temptation Magazine “Paradise Found”
Visitant Literary Journal “The Longhorn Creek Story”
The Wagon Magazine “The Crack Up”
Infernal Ink “Under the Trees”
Tiger Shark “Ants”
Double Feature “Amoeboid”
Sick Lit Magazine “Amelia Flew Home”
Fictive Dream “The Citrus Thief”
Fantasia Divinity Publications “The Tale of the Singing Snow Witch”
Ricky’s Back Yard “Tenderloin”
Bento Box “Artifacts”
NoiseMedium “The Terrible Secret Game”
Chronicle “The Buffalo Runner”
Zimbell House Publishing: The Neighbors anthology “The Gardeners”
The Drunken Llama “Oh, Nereus”
Fictive Dream “The Island of Women”
67 Anthology “The Wind River Story”
Inane Pure Slush Vol. 14 “Trash”
MASHED: Culinary Tales of Erotic Horror Anthology “Sauce”
Ricky’s Back Yard “Magically Appearing Potatoes”
Communicators League “Landscape With Frogs”
Jakob’s Horror Box “Goodnight Forever”
Panorama Journal “Looking for Joe”
The Wagon Magazine “A Mother’s Rites”
Midnight Circus “La Primavera”
Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine “The Snake River Haunting”
Communicators League “Men in Trees”
The Haunted Traveler “The Dissociative Effect”
Fixional “A Woman of the Arts”
The Gathering Storm Magazine “Hunting Bunnies”
Rhetoric Askew “Men in Boxcars”
Wilde Stories 2017 (Lethe Press) “The Tale of the Costume Maker”
Trigger Warnings “Night Heat”
Night to Dawn “Catacombs of the Doomed”
Zimbell House Publishing “Sing Me a River”
Zimbell House Publishing “The Sweetwater River Story”
Not Your Mother’s Breast Milk “Dancing on the Boardwalk”
Communicators League “The Platte River Story”
Aphotic Realm “If A Ghost Comes Knocking”
Bull & Cross “Once A Fine Notion”
The Dirty Pool “Heat”
Thrice Fiction “The Tale of Talker Knock”
Story and Grit “The Stew Pot”
Eathen Lamp Journal “Voices in a Hurricane”
Thousandonestories “A Town Called Wasta”
Communicators League “All the Flickering Shadows”
Occulum “Stay Out of the Attic”
Fictive Dream “Noise”
Aether and Ichor “When Wizards Sing”
4StarStories “The Pools of Nereus”
Tuck Magazine “Dining at the Mausoleum”
Zimbell House: After Effects Anthology “Washed Away”
Ariel Chart “Sing Me a River”
Truth Serum,Wiser Anthology “The Big Mouth”
Crux Magazine “The Cheyenne River Story”
Lunaris Review “The Snow Mother”
Trembling With Fear “Portrait in Blood”
Boned: A Collection of Skeletal Writing “Clickety Clack: A Love Story
Bull & Cross “Lonesome Prairie”
The Horror Zine “The Express”
Hot Tub Astronaut “The Star Counter”
Ariel Chart “Pursued”
Kristell Ink Holding on by our Fingertips anthology “Countdown”
Ordinary Madness “Barstow Requeum”
SickLit Magazine “Sand”
A Thousand and One Stories “Under the Yaquina Bay Bridge”
Ricky’s Back Yard “The Docks”
The Serving House Journal “The Shoe Tree Incident”
Near to the Knuckle “The Saguaro Two Step”
Ripcord “The Tinsel Kingdom”
Varnish Journal “The Apple Pickers”
Yalobusha Review “Men in Mines”
Clarendon House Books “The Upsandowns
Cadaverous Magazine “Strange Water”
Blue Fifth Review “Tessie’s New Cart”
Black Heart Magazine “Death and Ice Cream”
Jakob’s Horror Box “The King of Kitchen Street”
Fictive Dream “Breadth of Knowledge”
Linden Avenue Literary Journal “Airborne”
Storyland Literary Review Magazine “Sundays at the Zoo”
Communicators League “Women in Hats”
Tessellate Magazine “The Citrus Thief”
The Airgonaut “Girl in a Mason Jar”
Jokes Review “Amelia Flew Home”
Rhetoric Askew Fantasy/Megapunk edition) “Talker Knock and the Veiled Genie”
Lycan Valley Press (Pulp Horror Book of Phobias Vol. 2) “The Peter Problem”
Two Sisters Publishing “Paper Mache Man”
Tuck Magazine “The Empaths”
Pure Slush (Happy theme): “Marge”
Your One Phone Call “Hard Knocks”
Furtive Daliance Literary Review “Lisa”
New Reader Magazine “Midnight at the t. Lazare Station”