WG: Welcome Cathy. Thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
CM: Hi Winnie! Thank you so much, my friend, for asking me to hang out on your website this month! It seems like just yesterday we were having lunch at Luby’s Cafeteria on a weekly basis, brainstorming about new stories and dreaming of publication. J
As far as my bio, I write mostly military romantic suspense, a natural fit since I’m married to my own Air Force fly boy. My first book hit the shelves in June 2002. This year I will celebrate over twenty publications with Harlequin/Silhouette Books. I have finaled in the Romantic Times Bookclub’s Reviewer’s Choice Award and the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards five times. I have also won the RITA and the Bookseller’s Best Award. A former Theater School Director and University Instructor, I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater with a minor in English and a Master’s in Theater. Now, I find endless inspiration, following my aviator hubby around the world with our four children, beagle and two tabbies in tow! FMI on my upcoming books, check out my website at: http://catherinemann.com
WG: Let’s talk about your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer?
CM: The Northern Louisiana Storytellers and Authors of Romance absolutely provided a wealth of information and support along my path to publication. My critique partner Joanne Rock (Harlequin/Silhouette Books) and I met through NOLA Stars about eight years ago and we still critique for each other today.
WG: Tell us about your journey.
CM: It took me three years and five manuscripts to nab that first sale. The contest circuit undoubtedly played a crucial role since I snagged an editor’s attention through a win in the Valentine’s Over Vegas Award. That editor (the awesome Melissa Jeglinski) ended up buying my manuscript – and she’s still my editor today!
WG: What changed most about your life as a direct result of joining the ranks of published authors?
CM: I have had to learn to be more disciplined about writing since deadlines loom. My family has also had to be more respectful of my writing time. But truly, I consider myself blessed to have a job I can do at home where I get to be with my children and I never miss those school projects and milestones!
WG: What about your writing process: Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
CM: I’m a mother. There is no predictable day. J I’ve found it’s better to set weekly goals. And if I meet my goal by Friday, I get to treat myself to a weekend off. If I don’t meet the goal, then I can catch up on the weekend. This also serves as a motivator for my children. If they want me to take them to a movie on the weekend, then they need to give me space during the week.
WG: Do you have a ‘mood setter’, something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
CM: I do like to have music playing when I write – soft rock or oldies. Sometimes I may have the television playing in the background. (I’m totally addicted to Law & Order reruns!)
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
CM: I absolutely have the whole book plotted before I begin. I need to totally know the characters inside and out. I have to “hear" the hero and heroine’s voice before I can begin the story. For me, the surprise and fun comes in the actual dialogue.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories.
CM: I do tend to gravitate toward alpha males, but then Silhouette Intimate Moments and Silhouette Desires also call for those types of heroes, so it works well for me! J
WG: Has anything about the way you work changed since you became a published author?
CM: I’m able to trust my muse a bit more now than when I started. While I do still heavily preplot, if I have a day the character seem a bit quiet, I can sit down and let my fingers start typing and the muse will surprise me by sparking to life.
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?
CM: I’ve always been fascinated by time travels. THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE was one of my favorite books last year. Joanne Rock has a fabulous time travel book out from Harlequin Blaze this month, HIDDEN OBSESSION. I highly recommend it! http://joannerock.com
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?
CM: Read, read, read the genre you are targeting! Write what you love to read. Don’t simply target a genre because you think it’s selling well. You need to tell the story that comes from your heart because readers/editors/contest judges can tell the difference.
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What do you struggle the most with?
CM: Working at home near my children and all the things going on in their world is a gift. And, uh, working at home near my children can also be incredibly frustrating when a deadline is screaming toward me at mach speed and the kids are all piling in on me at once with needs!
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
CM: BLAZE OF GLORY (HQN, July 2006) features the Special Ops air force crew we met in CODE OF HONOR (HQN, August 2005), but is a stand alone story as well with my signature action, adventure and most of all – romance! Here’s a bit about BLAZE OF GLORY…
They call him “Postal" for a reason. And daredevil Special Ops air force pilot Bobby Ruznick wouldn’t want it any other way. Only one thing scares him more than anything – Dr. Grace Marie Lanier. Recruited for a rescue mission to Asia, the two together are combustible. For police profiler Grace, too much time with Bobby shows her the allure of a little upheaval in her well-ordered world. But with the deadline the drawing near, they must stop a deadly terrorist cell to save countless lives…will the price be their own hearts?
WG: Tell us about plans for future books.
CM: I am honored to have had the chance to work with Harlequin’s More Than Words Volume 3 on my novella “Touched By Love" out in October 2006, and I appreciate the serendipity to have been paired with the Seedlings Braille Books for Children project in particular as it’s a subject very near to my heart. My youngest sister, Beth, suffered an accident at the age of six that left her partially blind. Due to therapy in conjunction with one of her many surgeries, she spent a summer completely blind. I was her “seeing-eye-sister," helping her find her way around the world, reading to her for hours on end. Writing “Touched By Love" meant so much to me on many levels. To learn more about Seedlings Braille Books for Children, check out their fabulous website http://www.seedlings.org/.
I also have more Wingmen Warrior stories in the works, with FULLY ENGAGED slated for November 2006 from Silhouette Intimate Moments and another Beachcombers story in March 2007 from Silhouette Desire.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your fans can get in touch with you.
CM: Readers can always find me hanging out on my message board on my website at: http://catherinemann.com or I can be reached via snail mail at: P.O. Box 6065, Navarre, FL 32566. If you would like an autographed bookmark, simply enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Thank you again, Winnie, for inviting me to participate in your June spotlight! You’re a gem!! ~~Hugs, Cathy J