Cathy Seckman has published thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, more than a hundred indexes, more than a dozen short stories, and three novels. She is a member of the American Society for Indexing and Writers Anonymous. “Bad Moon Rising,” written with co-authors Darlene Torday and Debbie Schukert, is a coming of age murder mystery set between the Woodstock Music Festival and the Kent State shootings in 1969-70. H2O Mysteries, with the same co-authors, is an anthology of 17 stories about mysterious disappearances by water. Both are available on amazon. Her first novel,” Weirdo World,” is a young adult time travel fantasy available through Amazon and Nook.
What inspires you to write?
I love stories. I love reading them, hearing them, retelling them. I have a great memory for dialogue, so retelling is easy for me. My early training was as a feature writer at a small-town newspaper, and my favorite part of the job was a weekly column called “Peoplescope.” I’d find someone with a story to tell, and help them tell it.
Having a talent for storytelling is, in my humble opinion, a wonderful gift from God that I’m privileged to use.
Tell us about your writing process.
I do a lot of nonfiction writing, and in that process, all I need is my topic and the deadline. If I need to tell a dental hygiene audience about pediatric management, I do the research, write the article, usually straight from the beginning, and turn it in on time, as simply as that. If I need to tell a motorcycling audience about a bike trip to Nova Scotia, I collect the travel literature, review my travel diary, and sort my pictures, as simply as that. If I have an experience I want to write up for a True magazine, I write down the bare bones story, then flesh it out with dialogue and scene setting until I’m satisfied. The last thing I do is change all the names (to protect the innocent and the guilty).
For fiction, it’s a bit more difficult. I tell myself the story in my head, refining details as I go. When I have at least half a story, I start from the beginning and let the characters develop the rest. Sometimes, though, they need a little help. With Bad Moon Rising, none of us had a murderer in mind. When I wrote the second-last chapter, I chose the most logical person, then backtracked to add a few motivations and clues. It worked out all right, but next time I do a murder mystery, I’ll pick the murderer first.
I’ve tried outlining, but I end up ignoring it, so I don’t think outlining is for me. It’s all in my head. Character sketches come as the characters are introduced. I sit back and try to picture them in my head, then write it all down – which isn’t to say I won’t change it later.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
No, I don’t talk to them, and they don’t talk to me – that would be weird (-: They talk to each other, and I listen in.
I guess that’s how I interact, by listening. A bit of dialogue comes out, and I think, ‘Wait a minute, why did he say that?’ Once I figure it out, I have more clues to the character’s character.
What advice would you give other writers?
1. Study your craft. Lots of people have writing talent, but some of them never bother to hone, refine, and expand their talent. Those are the failures. If you want to succeed as a writer, teach yourself to be very, very good at it.
2. Schedule time to write. It’s a truism that Having Written is a whole lot more fun than Writing. You have to force yourself to sit down and do it. Read The Talent of the Room here: http://kelleyeskridge.com/other-things/the-talent-of-the-room/
3. I’ll repeat the best advice I ever got, at a writer’s conference I attended so long ago that I don’t remember who said it:”Do the best writing you know how to do, and it’ll find a home.”
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was lucky enough to have a traditional publisher, Cool Well Press, for my first novel, Weirdo World. Cool Well has since folded, but it sure was nice while it lasted.
My second and third novels were indie published after they were rejected by multiple publishers. When you’re a writer, you want people to read your books, even if you have to do the publishing yourself. Though I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon, bless them for making indie publishing so possible.
New authors? I’d advise them to go about it the same way I did. Try to attract a publisher; failing that, go the indie route; then go after publishers again.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
My guess is as good as anyone’s. I’m guessing it will become common for a new book to be indie-published, and for traditional publishers find their next bestsellers there.
What do you use?
Co-writer, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
young adult, fantasy, time travel, historical, murder mystery, coming of age
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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