The Long and the Short of It welcomes Catherine Kean to our pages. Catherine has been writing nearly forever. She told me she started writing stories before she started elementary school and by the time she was 16 already had a novella and a full length manuscript finished. Not counting these (which she said are gathering dust bunnies in the back of her filing cabinet) she is working on her ninth novel.
“Reading,” she said, “was my favorite pastime and I feel it really nurtured my creativity, because it introduced me to fascinating characters, imaginary worlds, and new ideas.”
She shared with me this wonderful news: Her daughter has already shown a talent for writing as well. Catherine said, “I think she’s going to grow up to be an author!” Her daughter doesn’t share her mother’s dislike of storms, though. “Living in Florida,” Catherine told me, “I’ve experienced a lot of storms, some downright scary—especially those that accompany hurricanes. When my daughter was little, we’d snuggle together and wait until the lightning and thunder passed. Now, she just rolls her eyes at me and says, ‘Oh, Mom.’”
Catherine, also, shares her home with two cats: “A 15-year-old short-haired ginger tabby who is a sweetie despite his arthritis and who loves to curl up next to me and snooze; and a 12-year-old gray tabby who adores tomatoes, nectarines, roast beef, chicken, salmon . . . He’s quite gourmet in his tastes. He especially enjoys munching the little lizards that live on our patio. (Ick!)”
She admitted that she very nearly quit writing at one point in her career. “I’d finaled in lots of contests, had been writing and submitting to editors and agents for 10 years, and thought I’d never find a publisher for my work. Then, Medallion Press offered me a contract for my medieval romance Dance of Desire, released in mass market paperback in 2005.”
Dance of Desire went on to win two Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Best Medieval in the industry review magazine Affaire de Coeur’s 2006 Reader-Writers’ Poll and finaled in four contests for published romance writers.
I asked Catherine what advice she would give to a new writer just starting out. “Write every day, even if it’s only one or two paragraphs,” she advised. “This is important, not only for establishing writing discipline (i.e. sitting in the chair and increasing your story’s word count), but learning your craft. Take online writing classes. Attend every writing workshop and conference you possibly can, and learn, learn, learn. There are many different ways to approach writing a book, so the more ideas you absorb, the better you’ll be able to find out what works for you.”
She admits to occasionally getting writer’s block, but has her methods for dealing with it. One reason she doesn’t get “stuck” very often is she finds it helpful to outline her whole book before she gets too far along, and that helps pinpoint potential problems. “By outlining,” she assured me, “I don’t mean I know what’s going to happen in every scene, but at least I have a rough ‘skeleton’ of the major plot points from beginning to end. If, while writing the book, I get writer’s block, I try to move the story on to the next plot point. Or, I’ll write a scene a few chapters on to spark my muse, and then come back to the one that stumped me.”
Catherine says she never thought of being anything but a writer. “Every day,” she told me, “I count myself lucky that I’m living my dream and that I can share my stories with others.”
And, we would like to thank Catherine for sharing her stories with us. Don’t forget to visit her at her website.