Welcome to the four hundred and twenty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with Christian and cozy mystery author and spotlightee Kathryn Jones. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Kathryn. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Kathryn: Hi, Morgen. I live in Bountiful, Utah (USA), just 10 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. I began writing many years ago when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I wasn’t working at the time and needed something to do. It didn’t take me long to realize how much I loved writing and how much it helped me (as free therapy) in my personal life.
Morgen: Isn’t it great. I went to an evening workshop and was hooked. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Kathryn: I usually write Christian fiction, but I have written a cozy mystery entitled, Scrambled, as yet unpublished. I also enjoy writing for children.
Morgen: It must help having children yourself… I don’t have any (although my dog acts like one) so I don’t write for them although I have a young family living next door who I’m sure would be happy to test my stories out for me. 🙂 What have you had published to-date?
Kathryn: I have published 3 books: A River of Stones, which is a middle-reader novel regarding divorce, Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones, a Christian fiction novel, and a Conquering Your Goliaths: Guidebook. I have also published many short pieces for newspapers, magazines and blogs.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Kathryn: I have had many, many rejections. It took 8 long years of writing every day to receive my first acceptance letter. Dealing with rejections is never easy, but it does get easier. Because I want my work to be the best it can be I have learned to see rejection as an opportunity to make my work better.
Morgen: 8 years… wow, that’s determination. I had my first submission accepted but then the rejections rolled in. 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process?
Kathryn: Yes, my books are available as eBooks. I have sold more eBooks than the paperback variety, and I think we’re going to see this interest grow. My book was published through CreateSpace and Amazon, so I was involved in the entire process.
Morgen: My books are eBooks only so I have no comparison but I do think it’s how things are going. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Kathryn: I do as much marketing as possible; mostly online. I have my own blog / website, write for others who have a blog / website, get online reviews, give my eBooks away for free occasionally on Amazon, have contests, get interviewed, and so on. Every day since my book has been released I have devoted at least a part of the day to marketing and it is paying off.
Morgen: Excellent. Most authors I’ve spoken to say it’s their least favourite aspect but a necessary evil and it does eat so much time but the upside is that we get to interact with our readers directly which is fantastic. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Kathryn: I write every day, even if I only get in 15 minutes. And no, I don’t suffer from writer’s block because I don’t think it actually exists. Allow me to explain: There are so many ways to get me writing: I open a random book and point to a random sentence. Whatever that sentence is, I begin with that. I also have a binder where I’ve organized magazine pictures. I open to a random spot and start writing what I see. I think of writer’s block as living in a box with the lid shut, and since I am not living in a box with the lid shut, there is plenty for me to write about.
Morgen: I love that. 🙂 I write and blog a short story a day so I have no choice. 🙂 Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Kathryn: I am a runner. Yes, plotting is necessary, but only in the minimalist respect. I want my ideas to come freely. Remember the box.
Morgen: Indeed. Things do go off at tangents and most have called themselves ‘pantsers’ in that respect. You mentioned ‘short pieces’ earlier, do you write any non-fiction, poetry or short stories?
Kathryn: I love non-fiction and journalism and published there first. I also love short story writing. If a writer can write a short story, they can write a novel. Both have all of the same elements of character, setting and plot.
Morgen: They do and I have, although about 200 shorts vs. 4 and a bit novels. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kathryn: Never give up, never surrender.
Morgen: Absolutely – a successful writer is one who didn’t give up. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Kathryn: Boy, I love this question! Let’s see… I would invite C.S. Lewis, he is grand in all respects, God—I know, a bit scary, but I have a few questions to ask, and my grandmother. She was a great lady in life and I know she is also doing some great things in heaven. I wouldn’t hide any of the takeaway containers for obvious reasons, but I probably wouldn’t cook from scratch. Cooking is not my forte.
Morgen: Me neither. I was at a dinner party the other day and this question came up (coincidentally, I didn’t ask it) and the chap who asked it had Jamie Oliver as one of his guests so he could do the cooking – that’s smart. 🙂 Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Kathryn: Yes, please check out my writing mentoring classes and workshops. Along with my new book, “Conquering Your Goliaths” I have developed an opportunity to learn how to conquer your own personal Goliaths through the “Conquering Your Goliaths: Guidebook.”
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Kathryn: You can learn more about me at my website: http://www.ariverofstones.com.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Kathryn: Yes. How do you find the time to do all that you do for writers?
Morgen: By giving up my job, having two lodgers to pay the bills and too many late nights… but I enjoy it so it’s worth it. 🙂 Thank you, Kathryn.
I then invited Kathryn to include an extract of her writing…
She sounded like a broken record, one of those vinyl disks that nobody used anymore to play music. Everything was so high-tech, so other-worldly, so…
“Your mind is racing,” said the man. “When you slow it down, you can hear. See this room? Feel how quiet it is?”
Ms. Virginia Bean tried to slow down her feet. She tried to grip the arms of the white chair and suddenly realized there weren’t any arms.
The old man laughed. “You don’t need to be afraid, Virginia, all you need is a listening ear; a moment that you can hear the voice.”
And a synopsis of her latest book…
David gathered 5 smooth stones to meet and defeat Goliath. What did these stones represent and how can you use them to conquer Goliaths in your own personal quests? Ms. Virginia Bean will show you how.
Travel with her on her own personal journey. See what she does. Learn how she grows. Discover what she becomes.
“Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones” is for anyone desiring to travel beyond mediocrity, pain and fear. Learn of the great power within you, a power given to you from God, a power that must ultimately be unleashed to conquer the Goliaths in your own life. Come to an even deeper understanding of God and what he wants for you. Come…
Kathryn has been a published writer since 1987. She has published various newspaper stories, magazine articles, essays and short stories for teens and adults. She is the author of: “A River of Stones,” a young adult fiction novel dealing with divorce published in 2002, and “Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones,” a Christian novel published in January of 2012. Her newest creation, a “Conquering your Goliaths—Guidebook,” was published February of 2012.
Update November 2012: “Scrambled” was published in September of 2012. It’s a cozy mystery and the first book in the new Susan Sleuth Mystery series available on Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk.
I’ve also published an e-book entitled, “Marketing Your Book on a Budget.” This is a short read and available on Amazon.com ($0.99) / Amazon.co.uk (£0.77). For those who purchase the e-book, they also receive yearly updates on the book for free.
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