I am happy to feature Soul Mate author Kim Hotzon and her new release, Hands Full of Ashes. Prepare for an adventure-filled ride that spans three continents.
Twenty five years ago, I boarded a plane (I do that a lot, it seems). My purpose for travelling to Japan was to teach English. I was quickly in over my head. The problem was that I did not have any money, nor did I have sponsorship, which would allow me to stay in the country. I bounced from one youth hostel to another and soon I became ill. After many hospital visits I was given varying diagnoses including (correctly) a kidney infection and severe stress, and (incorrectly) appendicitis and heart disease. After a visit with the Consulate General at the Canadian embassy and his personal physician, I eventually recovered. I found a job teaching English in Osaka and I remained in Japan for two years. Upon my return to Canada I began writing my memoir, When the Cherry Blossoms Fall: My Life as an English Teacher in Japan.
Fast forward two decades. I now had accomplished many things: a marriage, children and a thriving career at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. One morning, I opened up the local newspaper and read an article. A woman was looking for a group of volunteers to travel to Rwanda to work on a project assisting genocide survivors. I felt an instant connection, a need to go. I boarded a plane for Africa. My family were shocked and scared. I was excited and about to fulfill a life-long dream. Naturally, Africa changed my life. How could it not? I was inspired once again to write. This time, what developed was not a memoir, but a fictional love story. I called it Hands Full of Ashes.
I began the long road toward publication. My learning curve was rapid and very steep. I posted part of my work online and began to receive compliments and critiques. I was approached by a well-known Canadian author who also works as an editor on the side. She did the initial editing on the manuscript. I spent months researching agents and how to write a query letter. I enlisted beta-readers to provide feedback. I kept editing. Rewriting. Editing some more. I began to send out query letters. Many of them. I had several agents show interest, but they would not commit. Seems my story was hard to pin down into a specific genre. The prevailing response was, ‘Love your writing and your voice, but what genre is this?’
I was contacted by Deborah Gilbert, the editor of Soul Mate Publishing. She suggested a different ending. I was finally ready to consider making changes. I re-wrote the ending and in the same week I had two requests from two different publishers who were offering a contract. A third was interested and considering the manuscript. I nearly fell off my chair. I chose Soul Mate Publishing. Believe it or not, their tag line and website were part of the reason I made that decision. I was looking for professionalism and a good fit for the genre of my story. The other reason was purely based on an intuitive feeling.
Hands Full of Ashes is to be released on January 14, 2015. I am now working on my next novel, another love story, but this romance veers into historical and fantasy territory. Writing is definitely hard work. However, if it’s something that you feel called to do, you can’t imagine not doing it. My advice for new writers – do not give up. Ever.
Olivia promises to fulfill her dying husband’s wish – to scatter his ashes around the world. Wading through grief and depression, she journeys to a remote orphanage in Uganda. Living amongst the children in their threadbare surroundings, she vows to fight for the children’s lives as she begins to fight for her own. While Olivia develops a passion for humanitarian work, the lonely director of the orphanage develops a simmering passion for her.
Just as time begins to heal the wounds of her heart, Olivia learns the truth of her husband’s unimaginable betrayal. She flees to the tiny country of Rwanda where her soul is reawakened with a startling new love. Olivia realizes that love always comes with a price when she is faced with a decision she thought she would never have to make.
Surrounded by the rugged beauty of Africa, Olivia is determined to find true love while learning how to survive in a region left torn apart by civil war.
Born in beautiful British Columbia, Kim developed a passion for writing at an early age. Her interest in people led her all over the globe, including a two year stay in Japan and a humanitarian trip to Rwanda.
She loves to write romance stories with a twist, usually involving a dangerous and dramatic backdrop. Her first novel, Hands Full of Ashes, was inspired by her trip to Africa.
Kim spent many years teaching young adults with learning disabilities at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and she currently resides in the sunny Okanagan with her husband and two children. When not writing, she can be found plying the local ski hills, or getting lost in her kayak in the surrounding lakes.
Where to find Kim…