The delightful Catherine Russell is my guest today. She's here to tells us a little about herself and about her journey toward publication. Cathy writes paranormal romance and, according to her, her drug of choice is vampires.
Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog. My name is Catherine Russell, though most of my friends call me Cathy. I live in the Pacific Northwest, just south of Seattle, in Tacoma. My home is nestled down near the Puget Sound, close to the Narrows Bridge. My partner and I have been together going on 24 years this Christmas and we have one son, who is about to turn 12. He’s our pride and joy.
About 5 years ago I had been enjoying Twilight…yes, I’m a twihard and proud of it…and had been watching interview after interview of authors who had started out on a whim. So a thought occurred to me, why couldn’t I? I’d had characters rolling around in my head for many years, not based on real people but none the less very real to me. So began my adventure. They chose me to tell their tale. I picked up a pencil from my son’s study, grabbed a 5 subject binder and started to put their voices to paper. Yes, I said paper. I have a unique way of writing; at least I think it’s different. I write it out long hand first, then edit it as I enter it into my computer. The more I wrote the faster their voices became. I wrote on my lunch hours (I work full time for a nationally known health care system) on my breaks, after dinner and lunches were made, late into the night. Getting up as early as 3 am was not uncommon for me to do in the early days of my story. After 3 years and a few health crises’ of our own, my first manuscript was complete. I began the daunting task of finding a self-publishing company after I met an author in town and she suggested I give it a try. I choose iUniverise.com and went through the whole design phase and one round of editing, though I certainly needed more than one round I ended up using beta readers to help me finish it.
During this very hectic time, our son watched me become the author I am today. Both he and my partner put up with repetitive dinners, grouchy Sunday mornings and sometimes found me asleep on the keyboard…but they both encouraged me to continue it. When the day came that I received my first published book from iUniverse and held it in my hands my son was so proud he jumped up and down, squealing with delight as I did! He proceeded to go to school the next day and tell his entire class. I then began the grueling task of self-promotion. I reached out to local mom & pop book stores, though they weren’t very interested. As part of my publishing package that I had purchased through iUniverse, Barnes & Noble plus Amazon carried my book on line. One day coming back from a small signing in Olympia, I saw a Barnes & Noble from the freeway and thought…Why not? So I stopped in, spoke with the manager on duty and sure enough…I had my first signing with B&N 3 weeks later! That was the beginning of a 2 year run of going up and down western Washington doing signings, some with other romance writers during a launch party, others doing events during the spring and then later on through the holidays. I thought outside the box and did signings at Spirit Halloween stores that open up only during September and October since my book is vampire based, the sales were good!
So far, I’ve completed two out of the 4 that will be the complete Stage Series. Last September I began looking for a traditional publisher that had open submissions, hoping at least one might pick up the 2nd book. Submission after submission I kept trying, hoping to get picked up. I kept my head up even after rejections came in. Then this past January, I crossed my fingers one last time. Barking Rain Press, out of Vancouver Washington, had an open submission period right after the first of the year. I chanced it, sending not one but both of my manuscripts. I’d discovered most traditional publishers didn’t want to pick a series up in the middle. After 12 weeks of sitting on pins and needles, I was rewarded for my patience by having both manuscript requested for further exam. And another 12 weeks went by and in early May…I got the e mail that my one of my goals for 2013 became real…they picked up my series! I’ve started on book 3, Enter Stage Right and am still in love with my series, though at this point I love both books 1 & 2 equally but for different reasons. The Stage was my first baby and my playlist still pulls on my hearts strings tremendously. But writing Exit Stage Left I really sank my teeth in to my characters, flushing them out a lot, and had a ton of fun.
I still write quite the same, lunch hours, early mornings and late nights, though not ‘til midnight anymore…it’s hell getting up at 4:30 for work after that. I find that I think clearly as my music plays in my ears, blocking out the rest of the world. The morning sunshine is the best time, my mind is fresh and my ideas come quickly. I enjoy cross country running, long distances really clear my mind and I get a ton of unique ideas and scenario’s when I run. Plus it helps me relax too.
The most enjoyable part about writing is giving my characters their voices, building their world and lives. Plus I love being able to make them do things that I normally wouldn’t be able to do or something totally insane, yet it’s very real to them. I get lost in the story line sometimes, when the words are flowing so fast, to the point that I forget where I am and the time…that’s about when my son’s comes, taps me on my shoulder and says “Mom, it’s time for bed.” I love him so much…
When I write I allow the story to grow organically, watching which ideas work and if not, rethink it. I try not to think too far into the story because then it becomes over thought and becomes too stiff for me. I’d say my series is character driven with plot coming as naturally as it flows through them. I hope that makes since, it does in my head. But I love each of my characters for different reasons. The main two, Geoffrey Drake and Megan O’Day, are the two that have been around the longest. The supportive cast was so much fun to create. And strangely enough, I ended up with multiple sets of twins in this series, something I didn’t plan on, it just happened and made sense so I kept that idea.
For right now, my first book, The Stage, is available on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and on iUniverse.com as well. My website is www.thestageseries.com, where you can watch the teaser trailer video for The Stage that I helped direct and had my videographer, Nathaniel Jackson produce and I have links on there as well. I’m on twitter @CathyMRussell plus my series is on Facebook , The Stage and just recently I’ve added instagram, thestageseries and on Goodreads too. My followers have self-named themselves as the Loyal Stage Hands and I have actually created swag in the form of T-shirts for all to order and to wear proudly. Thanks for having me and I look forward to enjoying more of your work as well.
I almost forgot to add that last June, after much due diligence, I was fortunate enough to have my first TV interview on King5 in Seattle for New Day Northwest with Margaret Larson. It was a tremendous day and I learned so much and had fun. The link for this interview is on the home page of my blog if you'd like to enjoy to it.
Blurb for The Stage
Megan is a bit of a social recluse who comes out of her shell, falling in love with an underground musician, only to discover that he's been her unseen protector since she was a child. That and the fact that he doesn't age...ever. Geoffrey Drake is her vampire guardian angel. As their two worlds collide, she discovers just how dangerous love can be.
Cathy can be found around the Internet at:
Thanks, Cathy, for sharing your story. Best wishes on this series.