We're super excited to have author, blogger, and wine-enthusiast Keri Rand in the hot seat today! The New Jersey native took time out of her busy schedule to answer ten random questions. How lucky are we?
With her signature candor and wit, Keri shares pieces of her writing soul - past, present, and future. We’re thrilled to share this interview with our readers, we know you’ll adore her as much as we do!
The Celestial Thread: If you could tell your younger writer-self anything, what would it be?
Keri Rand: Work hard. You ARE good enough.
TCT: You published your book, My Song, in 2012. What was the most revelatory part of the self-publishing process?
KR: Just because you self-published a book, doesn't mean you're NOT an author. My favorite local bookstore, Broad Street Books, is incredibly supportive of local authors, especially those who self-publish. When you self-publish, you are the one putting your book out there and marketing it. In 2013, I saw Broad Street Books' Facebook post about wanting to add local authors to their shop. I reached out, introduced myself, talked a bit about my book, and they agreed to add it to their shelves! Since then, I've had a great partnership with the store. On occasion, they host local author events that I'm invited to participate in. I love meeting other local authors and learning about their process. It makes me feel like a real author, because, well, I am one!
TCT: Which one are you: pencil, pen, or laptop?
KR: Ooo, that depends. If I'm blogging, I like Google Docs. But if I'm writing fiction or something personal, I prefer a yellow legal pad and pen (purple ink is best).
TCT: Do you listen to music while you write or do you prefer, as Dumbledore would say, siiiiiilence?
KR: It depends on my mood. I do have an Amazon Playlist aptly named, "Writing" (I know, super original) and I find a lot of inspiration in listening to Christmas music, especially the soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas." But when it's nice out, and the windows are open, I like to just listen to the outside noise.
TCT: What’s the one book you’ve read that you can’t imagine living without? Why?
KR: To Kill a Mockingbird changed the course of my life. If I hadn't read that book in high school, I think my life would look very different. I had such an emotional reaction to that book. It made me want to read more and be a writer.
TCT: If you could choose a book character to be for a day, who would you be and why?
KR: I think I'd choose Hermoine Granger. Who wouldn't want to know magic? But also, she's a boss. I think she exudes confidence and she truly knows who she is. That's something I definitely struggle with often.
TCT: Do you believe in the concept of a muse? What is yours like?
KR: I used to, but I find myself believing in a different kind of magic, ideas. Recently I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is a non-fiction book about living a creative life beyond fear. She has an interesting thought. She says that ideas are living, breathing things with consciousness and will. In order for ideas to be made manifest they need to collaborate with a human. Gilbert says that ideas swirl around us, searching for a willing partner. Once an idea finds someone, they will try to get that person's attention; if that person proves oblivious, the idea will move on to someone else. That's how I've recently been approaching my writing. I'm trying to pay attention more and let ideas know that I am a willing and able partner. I think my writing has grown tremendously just from being open to the possibilities.
TCT: You’ve won a one-month, all-expenses-paid trip to do nothing but write, where would we find you?
KR: Easy. Ireland. I traveled to Ireland five years ago, and it was such an inspiring trip. I yearn for the day I can go back.
TCT: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
KR: In 2016 I submitted My Song to the Writer's Digest Self Published Book Awards. I didn't place, but when judging was complete, I received the judge's commentary. They had used a rating scale of 1 to 5, where 1 meant "needs work." They rated my voice and writing style a 2, which really hurt. For a while it caused me to stop writing, but that gave me time to reflect, and I was able to understand where they were coming from and work to improve. I think my writing is better now because of that critique.
As for the best compliment, I've had readers express that My Song is written with a lot of emotion. It was, and I'm glad my readers can feel that.
TCT: Million dollar question - are you working on another book?
KR Starting my second novel has been a slow go for me. I have a couple of ideas, but I'm trying to determine which one to refine first. I have stacks of legal pads and notebooks with miscellaneous scenes written. It's the best kind of writer puzzle - I know they fit together somehow!
Right now, I'm focusing on restarting my blog, Keri Reads & Drinks. I have so much fun doing it. There is nothing better than talking about books and drinking. I already read a lot and love to have a glass of wine while reading, so why not join the two?!