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KATHY COTTRELL
Senior Editor, The Wild Rose Press

 

WG:  Welcome Kathy, and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month.  To start off, please tell us a bit about yourself.

KC:   Thanks for having me, Winnie. I never pass up an opportunity to run my mouth!  I am senior editor with The Wild Rose Press [www.thewildrosepress.com]  We are a fairly new [less than two years old] electronic publisher, which recently earned RWA recognition [editor's note:  there is no longer anything called RWA recognition]. We publish romance fiction in all lengths, from 1,750 to 100,000 words and many different sub-genres. They are outlined on the website:  www.thewildrosepress.com

My educational background is as about as far removed from editing as anyone can get.  I am a registered nurse and a certified paralegal.  I have worked as an advocate for survivors of sexual violence as well as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.  In my private life I am wife of one, mother of three, and grandmother to 1 and 8/9ths.

WG:  Can you tell us why you decided to pursue a career as an editor and what steps you took to get you where you are today?

KC:   Through writing, participating in a variety of critique groups, and presenting workshops to writers about sexual assault, I discovered a talent for turning "rough drafts" into some pretty good stuff and making characters stand out. My critique partners call the way I edit "Kathy Love".  The more I mark up pages, the more they know I'm really loving it.  So, when TWRP began growing, they looked for another editor to take on "The Last Rose of Summer" line and asked if I'd be interested.  I was; and here we are.

WG:  What genres/lines do you currently acquire works for?

KC:   I run the Last Rose of Summer line, contemporary romance fiction where the hero and/or heroine are usually over 40 and have significant life experiences under their belts.  I feel very strongly that the baby boomers are sorely under-represented [as lead characters] in romance fiction--or portrayed as past their prime.  There may be snow on the roof [not mine, of course, thanks to some good genes] but there's still fire in the furnace.

WG:  When was the last time you acquired the work of an author from the slush pile?

KC:   I'm sure some of TWRP authors are agented; most however are not. So, in answer to your question, I'd have to say we have a huge slush pile.  The last time I acquired something was this month.  I am currently evaluating seven short stories from an author I met in July at RWA Dallas at a TWRP Meet and Greet event. I adore each of her stories and, if she's willing to make a few minor tweaks, I will most likely offer contracts on each within the next thirty days.

WG:  Are you actively seeking out new authors, and if so, what would it take to catch your eye?

KC:   Funny you should ask. I and another editor in the Last Rose line were recently interviewed for the In the Garden department on the Wild Rose website and this same question came up. Look for the column written by Ima Rose, who is an absolute hoot to talk to. 

Short but sweet, our company was conceived for those authors whose work may be a little quirky and because of that have continually run into brick walls with the traditional houses in New York City.  I'm always looking for a great read; something that will keep me turning the pages; strong heroes and heroines who have some layers and a few warts. They must be someone who isn't afraid to fight for what they want for themselves or others.  I must have great goals, motivation and conflicts, plus a happy ending.

WG:  Do you think contest credits help an author further their career?  Have you ever acquired a manuscript that you discovered via a writing contest?

KC:   I think contests can help and hinder an author's career.  A novel can final in some major contests [the Emily, Duel on the Delta or New Jersey's Put Your Heart in a Book]; but bomb in others [The Molly]..An author can pitch their brains out to an editor and agent who might ask to see a partial or full--but it ends there.  Years [and we've all been through that charming experience] later, it's still sitting there, growing mold.  Meanwhile, the author sits in limbo, twiddling their thumbs because Thou Shalt Not Submit To More Than One House At A Time. 

Sorry, an author can submit their work to anyone anywhere, as many as they want.  Of course, I'd like to know if I'm in the running with Avon or Random House.  As an editor, I've not yet had the privilege of judging a contest.  There is always tomorrow.  And any contest coordinators who might be reading this?--call me.  I love to judge contests and I work cheap.

WG:  When asked what they look for in a new author, most editors and agents will mention a fresh and/or strong voice.  How do you personally define voice?

KC:   Like I'm sitting in that deli, smelling fresh roast coffee and my mouth is watering. Like the heroine is in my living room talking to me, telling me all her goals and aspirations.  Like that hero [who by the way must make me laugh] is standing in my bedroom, looking at me, with a smile on his face that melts my fillings. That's what voice is.

WG:  Have you ever considered penning a novel yourself?

Captain MarvelousKC:   Oh, you betcha.  I have two out under my pen name Kat Henry Doran:  Captain Marvelous, a romantic mystery set in the Catskill Mountains and Try Just Once More, a romantic suspense set in the Adirondacks.  They're filled with medical people, cops, priests, nuns, and some really bad guys. Hey, I write what I know.

WG:  How would you describe your editorial style? 

KC:   A combination of Attila the Hun and a cheerleader.

WG:  What do you see as the main strength you personally bring to the table as an editor?

KC:   Tossing out passive voice, tightening sentences, beefing up dialogue, encouraging authors to dig deep inside to make a story stronger, more emotional.

WG:  Are some/all of your submissions read by someone else in house before they reach you?  If so, what sort of feedback and/or screening do you expect that reader to provide?

Try Just Once MoreKC:   I read everything, no first readers--at least not at this point.  If things start to cook, I may have to resort to first readers, but I hope that day never comes.

WG:  Realistically, what is the normal timeframe for your response to queries? Partials?  Fulls?

KC:   Queries--24--48 hours.  Partials--15--30 days.  Fulls--3 months.

WG:  Given that you feel an individual author’s manuscript is marketable, how important is it that you personally like the work in order for you to pursue acquiring it?

KC:   The only way I would acquire something is when I love it at the personal level.

WG:  What input do you personally have on the cover art selected for the manuscripts you acquire?  What level of involvement do you feel the author should have in this process?

KC:   We have a very talented art department at TWRP.  The author is involved in the cover process from the time they sign a contract so I leave it up to her/him and the artist to decide what the cover will look like. As an author, I know what it's like to be involved from the beginning and have a cover that really rocks.  Bottom line:  if the author's happy, I'm okay.  If the author's not happy, I will strongly encourage them to speak up.  I do not tolerate whining; ask my kids if you don't believe me.

WG:  Do you feel that writers’ conferences provide significant value to you in the way of personal contact with your authors, other authors (either published or unpublished), and/or other industry professionals?  Do you receive any value from other offerings such as the presentations, pitch appointments, and/or networking opportunities?

KC:   Yes to all of the above.  I really prefer the smaller, regional conferences like New Jersey or Central New York.  RWA in Dallas, both this year and 2004, made me quite crazy because I couldn't hear myself think.  I try to make as many workshops as possible, when I'm not taking pitches, and I like meeting others over the planned dinners or lunches.

WG:  What piece of advice or ‘pearl of wisdom’ would you like to offer authors who are considering submitting a work to you – or to any editor for that matter?

KC:   Do your research.  Take your time creating your characters and their goals, motivation and conflicts.  When someone tells me they wrote this 75,000 word novel in a week, I get a little antsy.  When I slave over line edits, I expect the author to consider them seriously and take their time incorporating them into the manuscript.  I take a rather dim view of an author who sends me back the "edited manuscript" in 24--48 hours.  It tells me they either didn't look at my suggestions or do not value them. 

WG:  What sort of misconceptions/ unrealistic expectations have you encountered from authors about what an editor’s role is that you would like to correct?

KC:   I'm not fond of submissions filled with run-on sentences, mis-spelled words, point of view slips, and/or sloppy punctuation.  I will make corrections ONE time only.  If those problems continue, perhaps TWRP is not the best house for this author.  Nor do I care if the author is multi-published, be it with another line at Wild Rose Press or Stinkweeds 'R Us Publishing House.  If I don't fall in love with the hero, or if the heroine is a whining wimp who wears a sign around her neck that says 'Kick Me', I'm not going to accept it..

WG:  How important do you think self-promotion is to a writer’s career?  If so, is there a particular area of promotion that you feel is most effective?

KC:   I think it's crucial so if anyone is out there who can offer me some tips on successful self-promotion, I'll be your new best friend. 

WG:  I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc.  Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share?

KC:   I have two. I don't know who wrote them or where they came from:

The first is particularly special for those who advocate for victims of violence:  "You can always spot the pioneers. They're the ones with arrows in their backs."

The second is for those who are contemplating a major change:  "Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic."

WG:  What do you do to relax and have fun?

KC:   For fun I make tote bags and purses to order, whatever the customer wants. Any size, shape, color, pattern, with zippers or without, pockets inside and out.  Staff at local fabric stores call me the Remnant Queen because I'm always scouting out different fabrics, quirky designs or colors, pieces of material that I can turn into a bag. When I need to relax I listen to audio books. I am addicted to them.

WG:  Other than your client’s work, what do you enjoy reading?

KC:   Oh boy, I hope I can remember them all.  Nora Roberts of course; and Eileen Dreyer--who writes fabulous thrillers which feature trauma nurses.  Vince Flynn writes political thrillers which once I pick one up, I won't be able to put down.  Robert K. Tannenbaum writes legal suspense; carrying the same characters through 20 or more novels.  This man makes me laugh out loud.  David Wiltse wrote a number of books in the past featuring a horribly wounded hero named John Becker, a FBI criminal profiler.  Oh baby, I'd like to invite Becker home with me because I'd take real good care of him.  John Maxim wrote several novels known as The Bannerman Series.  The characters are quirky, funny and cold blooded killers.  I cheer my brains out for them.

WG:  What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows?  Why?

KC:   The Closer.  I think all the characters on that show are a scream as well as being very well drawn.  Law and Order, Chris Noth is a major fire starter in my house. In recent years, I'd strayed from Special Victims because of so many gross errors with how they depicted the law and how victims are handled, but I see that Adam Beach [major league hunk] is a new character so I'm willing to forgo errors in favor of looking at him.  There's a new show on TNT or USA, called Burn Notice.  Wowee kazowee, that guy bears watching and Sharon Gless is always a treat to watch.  I am a baseball fan [I love a man in tight white pants and buns of brass] so the playoffs and series are big for me. 

WG:  Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on your life?  In what way?

KC:   The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Every page is a pearl of wisdom and something to reflect on. 

WG:  Before we close, is there anything else you'd like to mention about yourself or the publisher?

KC:   Come visit our garden at The Wild Rose Press:  www.thewildrosepress.com. You might decide to stick around and help our seedlings grow.  To look at me, personally, you can go to www.Kathenry.com or contact me at KDCottrell@frontiernet.net.

WG:  And finally, thanks again for taking some time to ‘stop by’ this month!  

KC:   Thanks for asking, Winnie. This was a lot of fun.

 

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