Author on the Couch: Kathleen Groger
This week on Author on the Couch, I conduct a session with…
GIVEAWAY! Kathleen would love to randomly giveaway an eBook copy of THE COLONY… Just do these three things:
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Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Kathleen: In 2002, I was living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and managing a Media Play store. It was a Friday in September, but not just any Friday. It was Friday the 13th. I was working until close (if I remember correctly, until10 pm). Sometime in the late afternoon, I was on the phone talking to the store manager of another store branch and I remember telling him that I felt like it was going to be a bad night. He asked if I was feeling that because it was Friday the 13th. I told him no, it was just a sense of dread I had that something awful was going to happen that night.
And when my Dad called me at work a little later, I knew I was right. My parents had been in a car accident and my mom had died.
I still tear up whenever I tell the story. My mom was everything to me. I could talk to her about anything and everything. And I lost her suddenly and never got to tell her goodbye.
My parents had moved from Pennsylvania to Florida and also purchased a RV. They had just been at my house on Tuesday and were in Akron, Ohio when the accident occurred. The Akron area, ironically, was where they both had grown up and the place where Chuck and I had gotten married.
That day, I lost someone precious and it took me a long time to be able to stop reaching for the phone to call her or the computer to send her a picture of Alex. I had always heard the phrase “life is too short” but it didn’t really hit me until that day. Until I lost someone so close. I still think of her almost every day, but now I can imagine her reactions and know she would be proud of what I have accomplished. And now I don’t let a day go by without living it to its fullest.
Me: The thing that makes grief so difficult is that just because the loved one dies, doesn’t mean the love dies. It remains. Always. The trick seems to be learning to how love from afar because that person will never bodily be with you again.
What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Kathleen: I would say my almost neurotic level of organization. I have to have a plan for everything and I make lists after list of everything. I just started writing the third book in my Seam Stalkers series and I don’t have it all planned out. I have the overall plot, the characters, the big battle, but not what I’m going to write in the middle so I’m freaking out a little, okay, a lot. Oh, wait – this was supposed to be about how the personality trait helps me.
So back to the topic: my organization because I have my research files all arranged a certain way, I have a calendar set for my goals, and a tracking system for my daily word counts to have the first draft done by October 1st. (I use Word Count Dashboard app for Mac: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/word-count-dashboard/id597389716?mt=12 ) I also channel my inner grade school kid and award myself with a sticker on my calendar when I hit my daily word count. The visualizations help keep me motivated.
Me: A sticker! OMG! I love that idea! I may have to try that!
What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Kathleen: I am a perfectionist. I have to go over every word time and time again. And then one more time! I need to learn to accept after the story has been professionally edited and I’ve polished it so it shines in the sun, I have to let go and put those words out into the world.
Me: What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest?
Kathleen: This is an easy one. The day I held a physical copy of my book, THE COLONY, in my hands. I had worked on this story for five years and it had been a dream of mine to be able to hold the book, to read and touch my words, to sniff the pages, and to keep it under my pillow as I slept. (Am I the only one who slept with their book the first day they got a copy?)
Me: What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path, a time when you felt really crappy about your writing?
Kathleen: I would have to say it was when I went to my first writer’s convention. I was a newbie who knew NOTHING about publishing. I had read somewhere that it was a good idea to get business cards printed up and to include your book info on the card so you could give it to agents.
So, I finished my story, got some cards, and off I went. I happily told everyone about my story. A college girl finds out she is a descendant of the people of Atlantis and that she needs to join their secret council all while not falling in love with the guy who is really her enemy. And when someone asked me how many words it was, I blissfully unaware said, “159,000”. I got many blank stares, lots of laughs, and a number of agents saying, “Good luck with that.”
I know. I know. Don’t laugh at me. The worst part was that my tome of a manuscript wasn’t two books disguised as one huge volume. No, when I edited it down, there was only one story. And at the time, (2010), no one and I mean no one wanted a story where the heroine is in college. (New Adult was not yet a genre.) I was told I had to make her a high schooler or an adult. I rewrote the story with her as a teen, but it killed the story arc. After learning a huge lesson, I set aside this book and started on another that would become THE COLONY.
After that conference, I almost gave up. But I didn’t. Being a published writer was what I wanted to do and I was determined to make my goals a reality. The first manuscript is currently hiding in the far recesses of my computer and maybe one day I will pull it out and rewrite it for the millionth time, but who knows, maybe not.
Me: Oh, Kathleen! I didn’t realize how similar our experiences were that year at RT ’10! I too was laughed at because of the length of my novel. But I didn’t even know enough to track word count! All I knew was that I had written 658 pages on my debut novel! And I can assure you it will never see the light of day–it was one giant steaming pile of crap.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Kathleen: I knew when I was about twelve or thirteen that I wanted to be a writer. The first real story I wrote for me, and not as a school project, was about a Pegasus named Sir Lancelot. It didn’t have a true plot, conflict, or even any witty dialogue. But it sparked a dream. One that I kept pushing aside, but finally embraced in 2009. And I have been so happy I finally allowed my creativity the chance to shine.
Me: How many books have you written? How long does it typically take you to write a book? What’s the most painful part of the writing process for you?
Kathleen: I have a total of four books written. THE COLONY was published in April this year and is the first of my Rasper Series. The SHATTERED SEAM will be out September 13th. And SILENCING THE SEAM will be out in October.
The fourth book I have was the first one I wrote and told you about above.
Next year, I plan to release the second book in the Rasper series and the third book in the Seam Stalkers series.
It takes me about two months to write the first draft, then an additional six months or so of editing and revisions. Writing the first draft is the most painful stage. I have a hard time turning off my inner editor. I have to constantly tell myself to keep writing instead of going back and fixing words and scenes.
Me: I admire you being able to turn off your internal editor. I can’t. I have to edit as I go. I’ve tried and tried and tried to silence that editor, but I think it’s almost a compulsion that I can’t move on in the story without editing first! I’ll literally have writer’s block until I fix what I know isn’t right!
If you could be any character in any book for a day who would you be? Why?
Kathleen: I would love to be Hermione from the Harry Potter books. She is so smart, and come on, having a wand and the ability to do magic would be the best thing ever!! To this day, I still look to the skies to see if an owl is finally delivering my lost invitation to Hogwarts, but sadly, I remain here in the Muggle world.
Me: Tell me about your Sci-fi and post apocalyptic novel THE COLONY.
Trust no one
Never go out in the dark
Always have a weapon
Sixteen-year-old Val lives by these three rules etched on her arm. Her rules and her gun are the only things standing between her and assimilation by hordes of human-looking aliens she calls Raspers.
By day, Val gathers supplies. By night, she hides and wishes she could go back in time…before her family died…before the annihilation…before the Raspers began stalking her and demanding she join their collective.
But when the Raspers attack in broad daylight, the truth becomes startlingly clear.
A fellow survivor crashes into Val’s life. Adam’s full of charm and promises—like rumors of a safe haven—but there’s something wrong. He’s survived with no supplies, no weapons…no plans. Time is running out. With the formula for survival shifting around her, Val must decide how many rules she’s willing to break to escape the Colony.
Me: Share a few of your favorite paragraphs with us.
Kathleen: Val and the others she is with have stopped at a waterpark/zoo in hopes of finding a vehicle with gas. Val has climbed to the top of the stairs for a water slide ride.
I love this part because it’s full of tension and anxiety and it keeps Val in a heightened state of survival mode. I would hate to be fighting for my life constantly.
I screamed and crab scooted down the slide. I pushed myself faster. I refused to die on a damn water slide in the middle of an earthquake. The staircase slammed back into my chute, sending me tumbling head over feet down the twisting ride. I jammed my hand outward to break my momentum and after a few moments came to a skidding halt, leaving the skin on my palms ripped and burned. I managed to right myself, but not before I had entered the enclosed portion of the ride. Darkness enveloped me.
I couldn’t tell what was happening. I was trapped in a tube—a tube of horror. Another shockwave hit. I pictured the water slide as my coffin.
My breath caught and my head pounded. I had to get out of the confined space. I tugged the jacket under my butt and stuffed my bag in front of me. I rocked back and forth to gain momentum. A creaking sound filled the tube, and panic squirmed under my skin, searching for release. The tube rocked to the right, and then I shot forward. I closed my eyes and prayed I wouldn’t feel any pain when I died.
I flew through the ride as if I was sliding on water instead of nylon. I squeezed my eyes as tight as I could. Then a horrible thought hit me. At the end of water slides, riders were dumped into a pool of water. There wasn’t any water in the park. If I survived the ride, I would crash into an empty concrete basin.
I pictured my mom and dad. Clutched my bag. Rocketed through the tube of death.
⇓ Purchase THE COLONY here: ⇓
↓ Find Kathleen here: ↓
THE SHATTERED SEAM releases September 13th.
SILENCING THE SEAM releases in October.
Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. Her first novel RACE THE DARKNESS is available for pre-order now!
Check out Abbie Road’s second Novel HUNT THE DAWN, which is also available for pre-order!
*FORMATTED BY~MANNY GOODMAN~