Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tour Stop | The Swan Bonnet by Katherine L. Holmes

Book Title: The Swan Bonnet
Author: Katherine L. Holmes
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Presented by: As You Wish Tours

The Swan Bonnet at
When few publishers were still reading unsolicited manuscripts, I received two letter rejections for The Swan Bonnet. I knew the book needed work but waited while working on another project. In 2009, I posted the book at This was the first site where I had posted a manuscript for reading and comment. I gritted my teeth and cringed. But I wanted feedback for that book.

Authonomy is a public site. Even the messages can be viewed from outside which unnerved me. But soon I learned that people just don't have much time to read unknown books and that it took awhile to be visible there. Writers can usually tell the stage of a manuscript when it might be an embarrassment with readers who are used to edited books. Out of the eventual 1000+ comments, most liked and "shelved" the book. Ten per cent, more than a hundred, expressed that they would buy the book in a bookstore. Most comments were helpful and honed in on a place that could be improved. Mean comments were a joke at the forum: "How can I get that reviewer?"

These days, there is a lot of cynicism about writing programs. I did a Writing M.A. at the University of Minnesota. At the time, I didn't know many writers who were embarked upon a novel. Classes were actually similar to the experience at Authonomy with one difference - a writer (teacher) was present who had been published by a major or well-known publisher.

I finally got to the HarperCollins Editor's Desk at Authonomy where I would receive a review - the real thoughts behind that personally addressed reply with its brief reason for rejection. I'd written the book as a children's book originally and knew I was getting into trouble with the older characters having much of the storyline. While at Authonomy, I revised my protagonist to be at the brink of YA. I regret not doing my big rewrite before reaching the editor's desk. That would have meant stasis on the Authonomy charts. Having readers read your best is worth the wait.

I felt the book came together when I settled into the book and rewote each chapter, portraying Dawn as a teenager. That changed scenes and required additional chapters which I felt were there all along. I'd found that readers could follow the decoy hat idea besides my historical characters. If you can't find a writing group in your immediate vicinity, the internet is a good alternative. After all, successful writers can only know a fraction of their readers in person.


Swans are endangered in 1920s Alaska. Unbeknown to Dawn, her grandfather has shot an old swan out of mercy. In their coastal Alaskan town, her father buys the swan pelt, preventing her Uncle Alex, a fur trader, from selling it for export. Dawn’s father surprises her part-Aleut mother with a hat she helped to make and also with an idea to catch poachers. Dawn and her mother become involved with the suspicious effects of the swan bonnet besides its haunting effect. But after they encounter women from a ship and find out about a hunting party, they ride to the inlet. There are townspeople roving the shore too but who is the vigilante and who is the poacher?

Katherine L. Holmes’ first published book was The House in Windward Leaves, an MG fantasy which became an E-book Finalist in the 2013 New Generation Indie Book Awards and a Juvenile Fiction Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Book Awards. Also, she won Prize Americana for her short story collection, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories, published by Hollywood Books International. In April 2013, The Wide Awake Loons was released by Silver Knight Publishing. The Swan Bonnet, a historical novel, will be published in July, 2013, by GMTA Publishing. Katherine has worked with used and rare books in the last years. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.





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