When she’s not penning humorous suspense novels, Kathy helps others make their words work. She is an editor, and a columnist and speaker about words and writing. She lives in Boise with two hairy cats, one large, lazy dog and a husband who most of the time is neither hairy nor lazy.
Kathy loves spending time in the mountains of Idaho, hiking, snowshoeing and figuring out how to stay warm. She’s an expert on long johns! She lived for eight years five miles up a dirt road, emphasis on the up. When not enjoying Idaho outdoors or cozied up reading, she loves to travel and explore different cultures and cuisines.
She’s happiest combining that traveling with speaking about words and writing.
Kathy’s stories and essays have appeared in Futures Mystery Magazine, Hauntings from the Snake River Plain, and An Eclectic Collage — Creative Works by the Women of the Pixie Chicks’ Writers Group. Kathy is a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers. She co-founded the popular mystery lovers’ conference, Murder in the Grove.
What inspires you to write?
I love words and love to play with them. I also love to make people laugh. Anything and everything gives me ideas for stories … it’s the completion of them that’s harder.
My love of nature and concern for our environment frequently gives me topics or themes, but I work hard to avoid preaching. If a message slips in, I let it stay if it is quiet and well-behaved.
Tell us about your writing process.
I have tried every approach to my writing to smooth the process, but it still takes me longer than I’d like. I like to know the ending; know where I’m headed. I generally work out at least a rough outline and then allow it to evolve. (That means change drastically.) I once used sticky notes for each scene, but ended up with too many of them on the seat of my pants (which defines me, I guess, as a “pantser.”)
I write character sketches of major characters before I begin. I also create a spreadsheet with character first and last names, sometimes including the meaning of the name and a brief description. This helps me avoid starting everyone’s names with M.
The hardest part of writing is getting the butt in the chair and starting. Sometimes I listen to non-vocal music.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I generally feel as if I am watching a play or a film where my characters are acting and interacting with other characters. I do listen to them, bringing a “lesser” character to the forefront if he or she makes a big enough fuss.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read, read, read. Read in your genre and outside it. Get your butt in your chair and write. Never think you have learned all there is to know, but do not allow that to stop you from writing. It is great to seek advice and great to learn from a critique group and other writers, but if someone puts you or your work down and their criticism doesn’t resonate, find another reader.
Editors should be supportive. Constructive criticism should build you up, not tear you down.
I’m a professional editor, and I do advise others to hire an editor. You want your voice to be heard at its best. (And do find an editor who cares about your voice more than his/hers.)
How did you decide how to publish your books?
After my independent publisher closed, I decided to self-publish rather than take the time to find a new publisher.
I would advise new authors to consider all the new small publishers, but to be wary of big promises without proven track records.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Publishing, like so many other industries, is constantly evolving. One hundred years ago, alarmists predicted the death of the book and the death of publishing. My guess is that there will always be readers, and there will always be writers creating words for them to read. Call me a cock-eyed optimist!
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Humorous suspense, mystery, non-fiction
What formats are your books in?
eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print