Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Author Spotlight - Cathy Maxwell

It's the equinox today, the day where the northern hemisphere hovers on the brink of winter, and where we in the southern hemisphere rejoice as summer makes its debut. It's a good moment to take stock of what's important, and so we ask that you take especial note of the appeal at the bottom of this post.

Today's author in the spotlight is Avon historical author Cathy Maxwell (who hails from the northern hemisphere).

* * *

What is your writing process?
I don’t have any one process. Each book seems to take up a life of its own and has to be worked in whatever manner is demanded. Kinda like my kids. What worked for my oldest, didn’t work for the second, and the third? Forget about it!

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
The methods I use to keep at it on days I don’t want to write . . . .thinking about my mortgage, college tuition, the electric bill. Seriously! I support myself with my writing. I remind myself that I am doing what thousands for writers wish they could do. I put my tush in the chair and slog through. Then I keep my tush in the chair and revise. Good books are in the revisions. The revising part is my favorite. I like working off of an outline, even one that is a mess. (By the way, thank you for reminding me of that since I am currently creating a mess.)

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I have a horse and I ride him. We put around and it is good for both of us. I love to get my chica on and Zumba. I’ve recently taken up a Spin class. I prefer the express ones--45 minutes vs. an hour. Spin is not my favorite, a necessary evil. I attend at least one water aerobics class a week. Great for my core and my water baby soul. And I try to practice yoga every day. I also catch a yoga class with my teacher once a week. It’s one thing to practice yoga on my own and another with my teacher. Reading this, you are probably wondering when I have time to write.

Do you believe in writer's block?
Yes. There are all sorts of factors that can weigh on creativity. Doubt and uncertainty are two major ones. I expend good energy on maintaining my creativity. The hardest time I had writing was the year after my husband died. I tried to remind myself that he would have been disappointed if I gave up. My publisher was very supportive during this time. Focusing on renewing my energy helped me finally regain my writing balance.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
I use real life all the time. Where else should I draw inspiration? I don’t believe it has gotten me into trouble. I think everyone is still speaking to me . . . hmmm, well now, you’ve given me something to think about. Is everyone still speaking to me?

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
If anything, it is better than I could ever have imagined it. I like setting my own hours. My husband traveled and writing allowed me to be available to my children and still work. I also like following anything that interests me, knowing every experience, every meeting, every adventure is all fodder for books. And I like the people I meet. Writers come from all different backgrounds. I’m never surprised to learn who is writing a book and find their life stories fascinating.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
I do the usual, a website, FB, guest blogging on loops. I’ve never minded promotion. I enjoy people so I like to talk and rub shoulders with folks. But the most effective way to win over readers is to put my energy in my books. People can lack me all they want, but if the book isn’t good, all the promotion in the world will not help.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Write the best book you can. Readers will find you.

What did you learn while writing this book?
I toyed with the Alpha/Beta male. Over lunch last week, some readers were complaining about the men they were meeting. They want a take charge man who can change a tire, fix the plumbing, and tell them to stop shopping. Okay, well, maybe not the latter. But they want someone they will listen to and respect. In THE SEDUCTION OF SCANDAL, I’m riffing on that same idea. Do we really want the ueber-strong male? Or a cross of strength and compassion? I sense the last. I believe that when we break down what we want, both men and women, we are all looking for someone we trust and someone who isn’t afraid to step up to the plate. Whiners and welchers are not heroic.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
The dynamic scenes between Corinne and Will. You know, the ones where they go toe-to-toe. Great fun!

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?

Spending a summer week in the Cotswolds lazing in a hammock and enjoying the peace, the calm, the beauty--wait! That is my dream. Lazing around is what I want to do!
As for my hero, he doesn’t care where he is as long as there is a feather mattress and his wife. Men have a remarkable habit of cutting right to the chase.

And finally, some extra thoughts from me--

The most important news about my new book THE SEDUCTION OF SCANDAL doesn’t have anything to do with the book, but about the meaning behind the K.I.S.S. and Teal label on the book’s cover. Avon Books has donated $25,000 to ovarian cancer research and has also committed to donating 25¢ from the sale of each book, physical and eBook, in the "K.I.S.S. and Teal" promotion between 8/30/2011 and 2/28/2012, up to an additional $25,000 toward programs that support ovarian cancer patients and their families. More important, the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are printed on the back page of every September book.

How did Avon Books get involved in promoting awareness of ovarian cancer? Avon Editorial Director Carrie Feron lost a family friend to this cancer and super-bestselling writer Eloisa James lost her mother. They were talking and realized there wasn’t enough being done to promote awareness--and it is such a killer. Of the 21,000 women who will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, 15,000 will die because the cancer has been discovered too late. It is important we learn the signs and share them.

For your information, those signs are: bloating; pelvic and abdominal pain; difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). I know, I know, too common, right? You are correct. But if you are feeling any of those symptoms on a daily basis, please, get yourself to a doctor. Or in historical terms, hie thee to a doctor!

I know you're busy. I know you are juggling far too many tasks and heading into the doc for bloating isn’t something you want to do right now. I know money is tight. But please do it anyway. Think about the statistics--15,000 out of the 21,000 diagnosed with ovarian cancer will not survive. Better the doc tells you it is nothing to worry about than finding yourself one of the 15,000 ovarian cancer patients who will not beat this disease.

And take care of yourselves! There is only one of you. Treat yourself as the unique, vibrant person you are.

* * *

THE SEDUCTION OF SCANDAL is available in paperback and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indie Bound, as well as any good book store near you.


Anonymous said...

I have just ordered Cathy's book and I can't wait to read it. I've read some of her titles in the past and have loved them,so I am sure I shall love hers!

Caroline said...

Thanks for a great blog Cathy. Caroline x

Maya Blake said...

Thanks so much for blogging today and for bringing awareness to this disease. I applaud you for being part of such a worthy cause. Much kudos to you :)

On another note, I LOVE your cover!

Sally Clements said...

Great post, Cathy. I agree with you about the alpha/beta male - I think the take charge mixed with compassion is a very sexy combination for a hero!
I hadn't realised that the survival rates were so drastic for ovarian cancer - it's an important message to get out there - good on Avon for highlighting it!
I love your cover too, is that Bon Jovi?

Yolande Pienaar said...

While historical romances are not really my thing, I am sorely tempted to buy this book. Thank you for a great post - a shocking one though. I also didn't realize the survival rate for ovarian cancer was that low. Good on Avon for drawing attention to this.

Anonymous said...

Core workout for ladies are the proper routine for strengthening and firming most areas of the body. The muscle mass included within the core group are the abdominals, chest, back, and shoulders.