Don’t You Just Love A Good (Writing) Success Story?

Thursday, August 15, 2013
When I first started in the freelance business, I came across WOW! Women-on-writing and their market resource called Premium Green. It was a great resource for markets, but more importantly, it was a wonderful opportunity to network with other (often more experienced) writers. Eventually, Premium Green was absorbed into the WOW! freelance job boards (and I hope you check those regularly!), but I’m still friends with many of the writers I met on Premium Green. And when I see one of my friends enjoying writing success, I’m thrilled!

Which brings me to Beth Cato, one of my PG friends, who just garnered a two-book deal with HarperCollins Voyager. So naturally, I grabbed her for a quick interview to get her to dish up a little writing wisdom to us!

Beth, I’m so excited for you! (Probably not as excited as you are, of course, but still.) First off, tell us all about the book deal. What genre is your novel, and what drew you to it?

Hi, Cathy! I'm thrilled to be here. WOW! has been such a resource for me since I first started out as a writer. One of my very first publications was as a winner of the WOW! flash fiction contest!

My book is called The Clockwork Dagger (at least, for now) and the genre is steampunk. Steampunk uses a Victorian or Edwardian sort of setting, but adds in new technology or magic. Think Jules Verne or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with submarines, airships, and corsets. Steampunk pulls me in because I've been a historical fiction lover since I was eight-years-old and discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder. Steampunk draws heavily on history--even in a novel like mine, that doesn't take place on Earth. I used the grimness of post-World War I Europe as the model for my world, with my main character as a physician with experience on the front.

Oooh, sounds intriguing! Now, how about a short synopsis of your writing journey (I’m talking plot, the conflict, and the characters)?

Ah, the writing journey. The key characters: me, my husband, our son. I was a stay-at-home mom, going bonkers. I decided to work through my fears and return to my childhood love of writing. That kept me grounded even as we dealt with our son's autism diagnosis and everything that comes along with that. I wrote several books and finally wrote one that snared an agent. I kept writing and created The Clockwork Dagger. The biggest conflict, through everything, is internal. It's me versus that whole stew pot of fears. Those stay with you, regardless of success. Fears just... evolve.

Well, dang. I'm going to need a good writing tip after that bit of news! So, if you had the chance to do anything differently, what would it be?

I wish that I hadn't stopped writing and reading for ten years. I loved fantasy novels as a teen and that's what I wanted to write. I had well-meaning family members tell me I'd go to hell for that, and a teacher I respected saw me reading and sneered, "That's not a real book!" When I stopped my dream of being a published writer, I stopped being true to myself.

But happily for you and your readers, you found your way back! So what’s the best advice you can give to writers just starting out?

Make an active effort to improve yourself by finding a network of writers at your same stage. Every story, poem, and novel is different, and if you're like me, you'll find new and astounding ways to muck everything up. I'm lucky to be part of an amazing community on Codex Writers. I can turn to them for novel and short story critiques. They keep me humble when I think I've written a masterpiece, and cheer me on during those days I feel like Coyote with an ACME anvil on his face. Writing can be a masochistic, depressing slog. A loving family helps, but other writers really "get it."

Amen to that, Beth. And thanks! It's always nice to catch up with old WOW! friends. (Um...not that you're old. Or that I'm old. Oh, pffft. You know what I mean!)

~Cathy C. Hall


RachelT. said...

Yay, Beth! You know I'll always be right at your shoulder cheering you on (even if I have to do it from 1,000 miles away). I can't wait to hold my copy of Clockwork Dagger!

Rhonda Parrish said...

Congratulations Beth. You've totally earned this and I hope you find sometime along the journey to really enjoy it.

Lisa Tiffin said...

Congratulations, Beth! Sounds like a cool book. And great interview, Cathy!

Marcia Peterson said...

Yes, I do love a good writing success story! Congratulations Beth. I loved the interview and related to a few things you mentioned. ;)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Congratulations, Beth! Thanks for the link to Codex, too. They sound like a supportive group. I'm intrigued by steampunk and I'm excited about your 2 book deal! Keep us posted! :)

Von Rupert said...

Thanks for all this great insight, Beth. Knowing that I'm not the only one with the "evolving fears" makes me feel much better. Thank you! Congratulations on your book deal--I can't wait to read The Clockwork Dagger.

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