Tuesday, April 22, 2014

PPWC 2014 Q&A - Kerrie Flanagan

Kerrie Flanagan, Author

1. What was the defining moment that made your realize you wanted to be an author?

I am not someone who knew from a young age that I wanted to be writer. It wasn't until after college that I even thought about becoming a writer and even then it was more out of necessity. I was teaching 2nd grade at the time and I wanted to find a creative way to teach my students about using a comma in a list. So I created a story and made it into a book to read to them. It started the writing wheels in motion and I wanted to learn more about writing and publishing. I found a critique group, self-published my book and eventually started writing for magazines.

2. What is the one thing you cannot work without? What is your creative vice?

I need my computer to work. I can write out notes and ideas longhand, but to put everything together, I need to be able type it all out on my computer.

For many literary greats, having a creative vice almost seemed expected. For me though, not so much. If I try to drink while writing I will fall asleep (it doesn't mean I won't drink after, just not during). I don't smoke and I am not much of a coffee drinker. I do love tea when I am writing, but in the true sense of the word, it isn't really a vice. I've never heard of tea being considered a bad habit or something that will lead to an early demise.

3. If you could 'revive' any literary figure from the past for a one hour conversation, who would you choose?

I would revive Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her books were a huge part of my childhood and now I have a huge amount of respect for her as a writer. The fact that her writing career didn't start until she was 65, is pretty amazing to me.

4. What is one of your more notable or unusual conference or convention experiences?

Early in my writing life I attended PPWC. It is a conference I will never forget because I made a complete fool of myself during a pitch session with a literary agent (who shall remain nameless). I had co-written a book with a friend and she pitched the idea to an agent first. The agent said the idea wasn't bad, but she didn't think it was a good fit for her. My friend and I panicked and changed the whole concept of the book before I went to my pitch session. I started with, "I am sure you won't want this book because *** didn't like the idea." I rambled for another minute or two until there was nothing but silence between us. I excused myself, leaving a four minute time-slot for another author to pitch. I was mortified and learned many valuable lessons. Don't change the concept of your book right before pitching. Be prepared. Speak from the heart; agents are looking for well-written stories and the more you can convey that through your own excitement of your work, the better chance you will have in finding representation.

5. What is one thing would you like aspiring authors to know about the road to success?

The road to success does not happen overnight, even though it might seem like that for some authors. The successful authors are the ones who take their role as a writers seriously, devote time to their craft and who don't give up. Many talented writers are never discovered because they didn't put in the hard work and time needed to finally reach that level of success they aspired to. Writing success can be in your future with enough drive, determination and of course good writing skills.

About the Author: Kerrie Flanagan is the Director of Northern Colorado Writers, a writing consultant and a freelance writer. Over the past decade she has published articles in national and regional publications and enjoyed two years as a contributing editor for Journey magazine. She has articles in the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents, as well as the 2012, 2013 and the 2014 Writer’s Markets, Writer’s Digest Magazine and The Writer. She was a frequent contributor for WOW! Women on Writing, is the author of Plane, Trains and Chuck & Eddie and has five of stories published in various Chicken Soup for The Soul books. Along with her own writing, she is passionate about helping other writers achieve success.


  1. The story about "the pitch from hell" is a good lesson for all of us. My first one was pretty bad too.

  2. We're all going to have one (or more) of those moments like Kerrie describes. I'm close to double digits, but some of us learn slower than others. :-) Our roads to success are a little more curvy than others.


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