Monday, May 25, 2015

Kathy Otten

Kathy is the mother of three grown children and lives in the open farm country of western NY with her husband of thirty-two years. She enjoys taking long walks with her German Shepherd, Max, through the fields and woods near her home. In the winter she likes to curl up with a good book and one or two of her five cats, while the snow blows outside. In between family, work and animals she can be found at her computer weaving stories of laughter, heartache, and love for the crazy cast of characters swirling around in her head.

The Interview

I believe color says something about a person’s personality.  What’s your favorite color? Blue
What is your writing process from conception to finished MS? 
Usually I see the characters first. I see them in period dress sometimes moving around in their environment, sometimes talking with another character. I write it down. The questions come next. I ask the character about their goals and fears. If I see another scene in my head I write it down.
Are you a planner, panster or both?
I tend to believe I’m a panster because I write whatever comes into my head first then rearrange and put the bits and pieces into some kind of order. On the other hand I think I’ve read so many thousands of books that I have an unconscious awareness of the three act structure so that as I put the scenes in order I may actually be outlining. Who knows?
How did you research for your book? I had seen something on the history channel about the Molasses Flood. Then I bought a book, and looked up old newspaper articles that told what happened. I also researched the Boston Police to find out about call boxes and uniforms. Old maps of Boston with street names added more detail. I watched YouTube videos of WWI fighter planes so I could get the sound correct for a single line in the story. I even brought a jar of molasses to my critique group so they could help me describe the smell.
What is your all-time favorite movie? 
To Kill a Mockingbird TV show? M*A*S*H and Justified, though both are finished now.
How important do feel writing workshops are to any writer? 
Craft is everything in writing. It strengthens you prose, creates characters that resonate with your reader long after they close the book, and it enhances your voice as a writer. I just came back from the Pennwriters, Inc., annual conference. Over fifty workshops on writing over three days and a one day intensive workshop. Aside from having my creative batteries charged, I always learn new things. Publishing is constantly changing as well and it’s important to keep up with writing trends. I don’t mean vampires, I mean the way story openings have changed, the way pacing has changed, and the minimal use of the word said and speech tags altogether.
What advice would you like to give to an aspiring writer? 
Someone at the conference attributed this to Stephen King, and said, “Writing in 5 percent talent, 90 percent perseverance, and 5 percent luck. You have to persevere. Put down the TV remote. Study craft and write.
Did anyone mentor you or help you along the way?  
No one specifically mentored me, but I’m a member of Pennwriters and Pennwriters believe in paying it forward. I’ve been helped and encouraged by everyone in the organization. My local group especially so.  Each member has unique strengths and life experiences, I don’t think I could write without them.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you? Chuck Sambucino said the secret to getting published is to put down the remote.
If you could live anywhere in the world you wanted to, where would it be? 
Where do you write? 
Generally on my desk top on my back porch.
How much time do you devote to writing each week?  Do you have a day every week that you take off? 
I work 40hrs a week. This week I’m working 50, so a specific writing time varies. Aside from that time, are family obligations, appointments, housework, meals, etc. Then with the remaining time there is social media, blogging, email, research, editing, workshops I teach, reading critique copies for others, meetings, my weekly critique group and if there is anything left, I write. I took a workshop at the conference on sprint writing, so my plan is to incorporate work on dedicating time for that and creating maximum word counts.
What is a genre that you have not attempted that you would like to try? 
Some day I’d like to try a M/M historical mystery. But unless the characters speak to me I won’t do it.
Is there anything you would like readers to know about you?
I have a pretty ordinary life. Boring, by most standards. My husband and I did dairy farm together years ago. That was a bit different. And my first grandchild, Leo Michael, was born on Easter.

Give away alert!! Kathy will be giving away a digital copy of her new new release to someone who comments so be sure to include your email address or means to contact you in your comment for a chance to win.

After the Dark

Months in the trenches of France have left Liam Gallagher wondering why he has survived when better men did not. His guilt intensifies when he returns home only to come down with the deadly Spanish Influenza sweeping the country. Once again Liam lives when thousands do not.

Now the only bright spot in his monotonous life is the time he spends each day walking with Rosalie Moretti. Their talks give him hope for the future, a future possibly to include this vibrant, loving woman. Until one dark, catastrophic afternoon, when Liam realizes the reason his life was spared has come down to minutes and his ability to perform one selfless act.