Catherine’s Writing Journey
Q & A
Over the past years, many people have asked me about my writing career. I did not sell the first book I wrote. I sold my fifth completed manuscript.
It took me many years of submitting to editors and agents, entering writing contests, and perseverance to get published. So, if you’re an aspiring writer wondering if you’ll ever see your book in print, don’t give up!
Below, I’ve posted my responses to some of the questions I’ve been asked. Enjoy!
When did you start writing?
Well, actually, I’ve been writing practically since I could hold a crayon. <g> My parents have illustrated stories of mine, tucked away in their home, that I penned when I was four or five years old. I believe one of my first “literary masterpieces” involved a family of ducks. <g>
I wrote my first novella at age 12, and first full length book at 16, just after I graduated from Alberni District Secondary School in Port Alberni, B.C., Canada. My first novel was a young adult time travel/fantasy. I still have it. I dug it out of my filing cabinet a few months ago and read some of it, and discovered it was essentially a romance. Gosh, even back then, I was a romance writer!
I read many romance novels before I decided to write my own. I loved being drawn back into history, to be immersed in a fascinating time period very different to contemporary times. I adored the way certain, very talented romance writers made each word shimmer like jewels. I decided to try writing a romance myself. I challenged myself, if you will, to see if I could do it.
My first attempt was a short contemporary with an antique dealer hero (Yes, I know--*rolling eyes*). I started it in 1992, after getting married and moving from Canada to Florida. I didn’t know anyone in Florida apart from my husband, and longed for a creative outlet. It was the perfect opportunity to write.
It took me about twelve months to write 60,000 words and, to be perfectly honest, it was pretty awful! <g> But, it was also my first attempt at writing a romance novel and I learned a lot about developing characters, story arc, and all those other important novel-writing details as I penned the book from start to finish.
That manuscript is permanently shelved now. There may be elements I can draw out of it for a future novel, but most of it I regard as a learning exercise.
The Middle Ages is a fascinating time in history. When I do research for my novels, I often get lost in the intriguing details of how people lived, dressed, what they ate, how they interacted, etc.
I’m a true romantic at heart in that I adore tales of knights in shining armor rescuing damsels in distress, besieging castles in the name of justice and honor, sacrificing personal ambitions to wed the women they love. I incorporate all of these ideas into my own stories.
Do you write just historical romances, or do you write other genres too?
I also write contemporaries and paranormals. My romantic comedy Lucky Girl is currently being marketed to publishers by my agent.
I also write historical short stories. My medieval Lady Roselyn’s Champion was published in the August, 2004 issue of Wax Romantic Online Romance Fiction Magazine. In 2005, my short story entitled The Nettle Bracelet, won romance review magazine Affaire de Coeur’s 9th Annual Short Story Contest.
Which of your books was the first to sell?
The fifth novel I wrote, Dance of Desire, was the first one I sold. It was released in mass market paperback by Medallion Press in March 2005.
It was originally published with two gorgeous cover designs, thanks to a cover-voting contest Medallion Press ran for about seven weeks on its web site. The results were tied pretty well through the whole contest. So, Medallion Press decided to please everyone and print both covers for the first print run—a wonderful idea!
I’m really thrilled that Dance of Desire was the launch title of the company’s Sapphire Jewel Imprint mass market historical romance line.
Do you have an agent?
Yes! Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary Agency.
I didn’t have an agent, though, for most of the time I was writing. When Medallion Press offered me the contract for Dance of Desire, I contacted Michelle—my top choice of agent—who handled the contract for me.
How long did it take you to get published?
Many years! This is also true for most of the authors I know.
As I mentioned previously, I wrote my first novel in 1992. A few months later, I returned to the work force and didn’t have time to write. With us both employed, my husband and I were able to save enough to buy our first house and some new furniture. We celebrated our move into our brand new, custom built home with a huge house-warming party and champagne! The following spring, I discovered I was pregnant.
I quit my job when I was seven months into my pregnancy. My husband and I both felt that to provide the best, most nurturing environment for our much-anticipated baby, I’d become a stay-at-home mom. I don’t regret that decision in the least. Being a mother is one of the most incredible, special experiences. Every day, I am grateful for my beautiful, healthy, intelligent daughter who was born five weeks premature. You’d never know it, though, to see her now.
How many rejections did you receive before you were published?
Seriously, I have files full of them. I’ve saved most of them for my own interest.
What was the best rejection letter you ever received?
A personalized letter pointing out the areas where the agent felt my manuscript needed to be improved.
What was the worst?
A grainy, almost illegible, photocopied form rejection letter, which looked so terrible, my husband raised an eyebrow and said, “If this agency thinks this is professional, you don’t want them representing you.” Very true.