Nope, it’s not working. How do I do this writing thing?
Writing fiction fell upon me through my own devices of dreams and things. After some research online where I found the affair of my 19th century, barely out of her teen years debutante, I thought, I must write this story of love, disappointment and murder.
I know, I said to myself, I’ll write a book. After all, I had written a chapter for a history book and been wooed by a publisher. I wrote up school catalogs, wrote course curriculum, wrote up interior design and architectural history lectures, proposals for jobs, poetry and love letters. Surely writing a book would be a piece of cake. Sure, right.
I sat down, pen in hand, put pen down—booted up my trusty Mac, surely that would inspire me, nope, that didn’t help, read “Writing for Dummies,” nothing helped. This is not going to work. What do I write first, the end? What words do I use? How do I find my characters? Where does all this come from? It shouldn’t be any different than giving a lecture. OK, I though smugly, I’ll approach it like a lecture. I could talk for hours about interior design, lighting, space planning, history, architectural anything. Still nothing. I remember the emptiness, the confusion, the lack of words. I didn’t think I had this gift to tell a story, no less write one. If it is pretend, then leave it to the imagination of the gifted.
Tommy the train to NYC
Then I met Brenda. I met this young woman on a train ride into New York traveling to a Michael Hauge workshop.
Michael Hauge is a story and script consultant, author, and lecturer who works with writers and filmmakers on their screenplays, novels, movies, and television projects.
Hauge is a screenwriter who works with storytellers like me, well—me trying to discover my inner sanctum. I didn’t grasp the lesson that day, but on our break, I heard what Brenda had written and asked her if any of what I heard was true. She said no, that she had made it up, Ahha, a storyteller. I asked Brenda to explain how she did that. We talked several times, and she helped me start my story of this young girl, married to a drug addict, and her hero that came along and saved her life.
I discovered the art of writing, a creative endeavor. Creativity is a right brain activity. Have you explored your creativity? I always remember creating. When I was maybe seven years old, comic books were the rage. I would sit at my desk and draw what I saw in the comic books. Wonder Woman was my hero. As I got older, I drew all kinds of things. I played the piano, I took dance lessons, voice lessons, sang in school shows, sang in school choir, took my mother’s dresses apart and remade them. Took my radio apart and my clock apart and put them back together, well, with Daddy’s happy help, it was my curiosity that pushed me to explore. The list goes on, and I wrote little poems and notes to friends and family. I was just not a storyteller.
I wanted to tell this story, and by golly, I was going to. I investigated availability of curriculum to learn the skills of fiction writing. Workshops, online courses and seminars, mentors, crit groups, conferences—later, newly armed with the craft of writing for which I should be awarded a PhD in the subject, I had the first draft done, however, not without help and encouragement from Brenda and my editor. This is not an activity that is easily done alone. I am a member of the Connecticut Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, where so many other writers gather and help each other. The first draft led to the second and the third drafts. By the time I worked on the fourth, I had my publisher’s editor who was amazing. With her edits, I practically rewrote the whole manuscript. In October 2015, Indigo Sky was published by Soul Mate Publishing. I finally felt like a writer, and could call myself ‘Author.’
My book can be found in three formats, paperback, eBook and Audiobook. If you like to watch trailer previews of Disney, you will enjoy the trailer preview of Indigo Sky.
The link to my trailer is right here above on my Author page.
The most wonderful gift that came out of all of this is my growth as a writer. I can teach, edit, develop, critique, mentor and encourage new writers and even participate with seasoned writers doing related activities.
So . . . what is your creative bent?
Why? Did your painting journey uncover a secret? Although Bierstadt’s work is now noted as brilliant, I discovered that Mark Twain did not like Bierstadt’s work, I discovered that his teachers’ in Germany thought he was an inept painter, I discovered that he married his traveling partner’s wife. Oh, oh, oh no, simple times, innocent me. Did I really have to write a story, a book, a novel no less? I had no clue what I was getting myself into.
In my careers, I have written catalogs and lectures, and even letters, but a novel, not possible. I began writing, just for fun…it was not fun. How in the world do I do this?
All I wanted was to tell the story of this 19th century debutante, who left her husband for another man, in times when that kind of thing was unheard of. Sure, there was good reason, there had to be in those days when even the sound of the word, DIVORCE, had folks cowering and covering their ears.
Three writers writing
Then, on one fateful winter day, I heard about three writer’s giving a talk at my local library. I reserved a seat right away. It was the first time I’d been around other people who had writing on their minds. It totally changed my world.
When I decided to pursue writing, I studied every single thing I could find about the business, worked with a critique partner, critique groups and two editors, and studied as much as I could about the craft of writing.
A couple of months after releasing my first book, I made the jump into audio after an author friend recommended actor Jane Oppenheimer to narrate. It was something my busy readers wanted, another way to read a story, listen while you work.
Focusing a section of my marketing efforts towards the sale of my audiobook has helped with my success. Giving out the free download codes that ACX provides with each audiobook release is a great way to build buzz among your readers about a new release and to encourage reviews. You can find me on social media.
This huge, mural type 10’x15’ painting was finished in 1867 and hung in Mr. Lockwood’s Mansion in Norwalk, CT, until Mr. Lockwood died four years later. The painting was sold to an auction gallery for a measly $5100, originally Mr. Lockwood paid $25,000, that was in 1867, Imagine? I wanted to get it back from the St. Johnsbury Atheneum, Vermont, but that was not possible. The director gave me prints, pictures, and images and permitted me to photograph the painting.
My work is 24×36″, dwarfed by the original below.
Domes of Yosemite (Ode to Bierstadt) 24×36″ Acrylic/Canvas Ingis Claus
Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA
Look at tiny me, next to the Bierstadt painting
Indigo Sky in 3 formats Print Book, eBook, Audiobook
First transistor portable radio
Recently, I wrote this blog for C.D. Hersh’s post at Soul Mate Publishing. The invitation to their blog guest spot came along at a perfect time, when my print book and audiobook are practically on my doorstep. Now, with the changing and the rapid growth of the book business, authors like myself, are looking for fresh ways to capture a new audience.
Headphones to listen to the books
Readers and listeners have been lured to audio books, but then so have narrators. It’s a, pardon the pun, novel opportunity for actors to perform. Audible.com, an audio company owned by Amazon, has a large pool of professional actors as narrators, and producers who are signing on more and more celebrities. Very often listeners buy based on who is performing. They follow a narrator, like readers follow an author. My actor, Jane Oppenheimer, has brought my book, Indigo Sky, to another level. I like her style and how she interacts with my characters. Here’s her website for your perusal and for contact: Janeoppenheimervoice.com.
Lone Ranger & Tonto
With the stirring notes of the William Tell Overture and a shout of “Hi-yo, Silver! Away!” The Lone Ranger debuts on Detroit’s WXYZ radio station, 1933.
Do you remember the old radio programs and the dramatizations, the stories, the mysteries, the comedies? We all sat around and listened. We used our imagination, we made our own visuals. Dagwood and Blondie (the Bumsteads). The Shadow Knows, Great Gildersleeve, Fibber McGee and Molly, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and more. I even listened to tap dancing on the Children’s Hour on Sundays. Storytelling is older than Moses, you remember him, right? People were telling stories long before writing stories.
You can discuss finances with your narrator. You will need to discuss the time frame as well. The narrator provides a sample. It’s quite workable.
So how do you hire an actor to produce an audiobook? ACX.com has a great website with information and narrators. If you would like to work or interview Jane Oppenheimer, you can request her on Audible.
Here’s the direct link to the author page at acx.com.
Print book, eBook, Audiobook
Indigo Sky, historic romance, now an Amazon eBook, will also shortly be available in print book and audiobook. Watch for details.
One liner: A dream marriage becomes a trap of addiction, lies and women
Back Cover Blurb: In a whirlwind romance, a lovely New York socialite marries a fêted, debonair author. But beneath the charm is a cheating husband addicted to hasheesh. Her dream marriage turns sour and the simplicity of her life runs amok when a handsome stranger, her husband’s business partner, threatens her staunch loyalty to her wayward husband. When she faces the ugly truth about her marriage, her need to finalize her divorce sends her on mad chase across the wilds of nineteenth century America with a handsome stranger—she learns hard lessons of murder, kidnapping and more that almost destroy her.
Get a taste of the story . . . check out the trailer.
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA
Amazon Buy Link: http://amzn.to/29NYE5w
Artist Page: https://artist.gailingis.com/blog/
Visit C.D. Hersh on my blog post last week and discover their work as authors.
Cat Johnson is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling contemporary romance author. She’s known for her creative marketing and research practices. Cat has sponsored bull riding rodeo cowboys, owns a collection of cowboy boots and camouflage shoes for book signings and a fair number of her consultants wear combat or cowboy boots for a living. A hybrid author, she writes both full length and shorter works and has series with Kensington Zebra and Samhain Publishing, in addition to her bestselling self published Hot SEALs series.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the suburbs just outside of Manhattan and have since moved farther upstate to a small farm. I think that gives me the experience to write both city and country, a theme which keeps popping up in my romance.
When did you first start writing?
I won a writing contest in first grade, but if we’re talking writing for pay, that was two weeks after I graduated college when I got my first contract with a big publisher writing work-for-hire for multiple Young Adult series. However my first romance contract was in 2006.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being my own boss. Knowing I can make the decisions and steer the direction I want to go in my career.
What are you working on next?
I have more sexy heroes to write for my bestselling self-published Hot SEALs series (in eBook, trade paperback and audiobook) after the new year, but next I’m writing a cute holiday-themed novella for Kensington Zebra that will be released in a mass market paperback multi-author anthology in time for the 2016 Christmas season.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Promoting, studying the market, engaging on social media, creating graphics, analyzing the trends, learning more about this ever changing business—and yes, I know you’re looking for what I do in my off time. Right now, there is no off time and that is my biggest failure in my opinion—my lack of work/life balance—and it’s something I have to work on.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Since I often write cowboys, and bull riders in particular, I’ve gone to the list of the real life top professional riders in the country and stolen names from there for my characters. But for my next release, Midnight Wrangler (in the Midnight Ride Series coming out in mass market paperback and eBook from Kensington Zebra Thanksgiving week) I actually met 2 cowboys from Alaska while I was in Vegas for the PBR Finals. Their names were Rohn and Colton and I told them then I was stealing their names for my book and I did. The hero of Midnight Wrangler is Rohn and one of his ranch hands is named Colton.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Hitting the USA Today Bestseller list six times. I’ve been in multi-author box sets that were on the New York Times Bestseller list twice and on USAT three times, but those were group projects. It felt different the three times my single titles hit the USAT list and I’d done it all on my own, twice were with my self-published titles which was extra satisfying.
The Midnight Cowboy series by Cat Johnson:
Midnight Ride (out now in print, eBook, audio)
Midnight Wrangler (Nov 24, 2015)
Midnight Heat (Feb 23, 2016)
Amazon Author Page: http://catjohnson.net/amazonauthorpage
Crazy questions That No One Ever Asks Authors
Do you write naked?
No, but I’ve been known to clean the house and do laundry naked.
What is the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
That I liked another author’s book when I really didn’t.
Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?
Once my date, back in the late 1980s, did, in a bar in Brooklyn. I hid in the kitchen until the fight was over. I’m too petite to be able to hold my own in a bar fight.
(Midnight Cowboys, Book 2)
Here’s a blurb about Cat’s Midnight Wrangler:
One Lonely Widower… One Woman with a Secret… One Night That Changes Everything…
Rohn Lerner is a successful Oklahoma rancher. He’s old enough to know what he likes, and still young enough to enjoy it. But losing his wife five years ago wore him thin. He’s not ready to date, but he needs someone to share a meal with as badly as someone to warm his bed.
Bonnie Martin fled her Oklahoma home years ago, leaving behind her abusive father, and Rohn, the lost love she never forgot. Now she’s back to settle her father’s estate, but she has no idea that she’s about to bump into Rohn or that they’ll fall for each other all over again.
eBook & Print Nov 24, 2016