Today I welcome to the blog the lovely Cathryn Hein.
Cathryn is the author of three rural-set romances, Promises, (released in 2011), Heart of the Valley (2012) and Heartland, released this month.
A passionate and moving love story from the bestselling author of
Promises and Heart of the Valley.
When Callie Reynolds arrives at Glenmore, the property she’s recently inherited, the last thing she wants is to be saddled with a warty horse, an injured neighbour and a mad goose. Haunted by her sister’s death and her fractured family, all she wants is freedom.
But Callie hasn’t counted on falling for Matt Hawkins, an ex-soldier determined to fulfil his own dream of land and family. Nor could she predict the way the land, animals and people of Glenmore will capture her heart.
Callie is faced with impossible choices. But she must find the courage to decide where her future lies, even if it costs her everything she holds dear.
Thanks for visiting Flying Pony Cathryn!
- What activities (other than writing) get your creative juices flowing?
Walking. I find it the best thing for letting my imagination run. There’s something about the rhythm of putting one foot after the other that clears my mind and lets me solve plot problems.
Reading also helps. There are some writers I just love to read when I’m writing because they’re so inspirational. But showering is probably my favourite! Step under the shower and for some weird reason plot or character issues seem to work out. It’s nothing for me to jump out and race, dripping, for my notebook so I don’t lose an idea. Perhaps there really is something to that flowing water negative ion theory…
- What sort of writing routine do you have – disciplined or undisciplined, regular or erratic, focused or easily distracted?
Mostly disciplined but it has been known to break down at certain (frustrating) times. I have a set writing schedule. Each week day will find me at the computer by 7am where I’ll answer emails, check blogs and Facebook, and generally do business-y type stuff until 8-30. Then it’s cup-of-coffee-fuelled writing time.
I try to write solidly until 10am and then take a break but it doesn’t always work out that way. I love reading industry stuff, and learning about other author’s writing and marketing efforts. I grandly title the time I spend on this as professional development but sometimes I suspect it’s a form of professional procrastination. Good, useful procrastination, but watching video about Goodreads advertising or whatever doesn’t get my book written.
- Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if so what do you do about it?
No. I can’t say I do get writer’s block. I do get hangups though. I’m the queen of them! When I’m in one of those moods, I fret about everything from the writing to the story, to characterisations, the state of my genre in the market, and everything in between. Things tend to bog when that happens but I just keep going, even though it feels as though I’m wading through a swamp of doubts.
- Which aspects of the writing life do you most love?
Coming up with a new story. That’s exciting! I also love, love, love writing the black moment. It’s my favourite bit. The more tears the better!
- Which aspects do least love (or detest!)?
Structural edits. I know that they’re very, very good for me and make an enormous difference to the book, but they hurt. It’s like being told your beautiful baby is so ugly it will only make it through life with radical surgery.
- What books and writers have most influenced your own writing?
I would have to say Jilly Cooper even though I don’t write like her at all. I always adored the way she anthropomorphised her animal characters and it’s something I do myself. As for the rest, there are so many! I’m not 100% sure but I think that Michelle Paver’s A Place in the Hills was the book that made me want to write romance.
- Can you describe for us your writing process, from getting the original idea to completed manuscript?
Before I start I have the opening chapters, the black moment and the ending well established in my mind. Also the characters’ external and internal conflicts. What they look like, their mannerisms and so forth I tend to only outline, as I find they develop and become real and vivid with writing. The setting I also have a pretty good idea about because it’s usually a major part of the story.
Once those things are fixed I start writing those early chapters and see where they take me. I know where I’m heading to, but not necessarily exactly how I’m going to get there. I find that if I plot too much I lose the thrill of discovery and all that excitement of not quite knowing what’s around the corner.
Somehow I’ve ended up with the annoying system of editing as I go, but I’m trying to get out of that habit. It slows my writing too much and it’s story that matters in those early drafts. The writing and clichés and all the other things that make me cringe I can always fix later, but getting the story right is paramount.
- Describe your path to publication.
Long, like many authors. I wrote for years. A lot of short stories, awful poetry in my teens, and then in my twenties I tried and tried to write full length novels but could never get past the 10,000 or so word mark. Plus I was working and studying and had yet to give in to that gut-deep drive that you need to succeed in writing.
Then my partner was transferred overseas and I had the opportunity to achieve the dream I’d let fester for too long. Toward the end of our final year in France I sat down and wrote a book. Not a very good book, but the feeling of satisfaction when I finally finished that first draft was amazing. No going back after that. I was hooked!
On return to Australia I kept writing, joined the Romance Writers of Australia, entered their contests, learned from the feedback, found wonderful critique partners, and developed from there, getting better with each manuscript.
In 2010 I pitched a manuscript to Penguin – my 5th or 6th, I can’t quite recall, as I’d also turned my hand to novellas by then and the stories were piling up. It wasn’t quite what they were after, so I pitched another and they loved it. Promises came out in 2011, followed by Heart of the Valley in 2012. My 2013 novel, Heartland has just hit the shelves.
- What advice would you give to writers who are working towards publication?
Keep writing. Every manuscript teaches you something and you’ll be amazed how much you improve with each book. Don’t worry about those stories being lost. You can always rewrite them, or do what I do and steal all the good bits to create even better stories.
Join the Romance Writers of Australia. I honestly believe that without the RWA I wouldn’t be published.
Find yourself good critique partners. They will do wonders for your writing. Plus having friends on hand who you can cheer with and sook to, who appreciate the highs and understand the lows, is an incredibly precious thing.
Learn! Understand the business you’re getting into. This is even more important now when there are so many publication paths you can take. There is so much information out there, and organisations and fellow authors willing to help, you have no excuse. Yes, it’s time consuming, but a little bit of learning could prevent you doing something you’ll regret.
Try to have your online presence sorted in advance. Believe me, you do not want to be learning how to use Facebook or Twitter or setting up a website and the like, as well as trying to cope with deadlines, edits and every other thing that suddenly piles on after you sign your first contract.
But the number one thing really has to be to persevere. Keep at it, learn your craft, learn the industry, learn to accept feedback – good and bad. Keep creating those stories, the ones you feel passionate about, that no one else writes but you desperately want to read. And don’t be afraid of rejection. Some of the most amazing writers in the world weren’t and that’s why they’re successes today.
If you like to learn more about Cathryn and her books, please visit her website.
(Cathryn has a fantastic Friday Feast section on her blog featuring writers and their favourite food stories and recipes. You’ll even find me there!)
Heartland is available now from book retailers, chain stores, or online from Booktopia. You can also buy the ebook from iTunes, Kobo, Google Play and Amazon (Kindle). A comprehensive list of retailers can be found on the Heartland page of Cathryn’s website.