Author on the Couch: Cate Grimm
Today I’m conducting a session with…Cate Grimm!
Cate is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and a $25 Barnes and Noble card! Just comment and share this post to be entered into the giveaways! Feel free to use the handy-dandy click-to-tweet links to share it quickly.
Enter to #WIN a $25 Amazon and a $25 B&N giftcard! #giveaway @CateGrimm @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet
Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Cate: After my grandfather died (at the age of 96—wow!), we made the decision to invite my grandmother to live with us. She was 92 when she moved in. I had two dogs, a husband and 3 very busy sons. My youngest son was 3, my middle son was 7, and my eldest son was 9 at the time. Adding someone who needed regular care and assistance to the mix made it even busier. And it was worth every crazy, chaotic moment.
In the four years she lived with us, Grandma blossomed and so did my boys. We all learned to slow down, to be respectful and patient, to enjoy spending time together, and my kids learned to value family in a really positive way. And the best part, they all remember their great grandmother as an integral part of their lives. She passed away in the wee hours of Christmas morning four years after moving in with us at the age of 96 years young.
After the funeral, my mom told me Grandma had earmarked some of her savings specifically for me. The caveat was I was not allowed to spend the money on anyone but myself. Not the kids, not the husband, and not anything for the house or some other general household expense. I was to do something for myself. So I did. I took that money, saved a few pieces of my grandma’s furniture, bought a desk and I turned her room into my office. I filled it with books about writing, bought a computer that was solely mine and I joined RWA and my local chapter in Northeast Ohio (NEORWA). That was the first concrete step on the path to following my dream of being a writer. If she hadn’t forced me to be selfish, and given me the means to do it, I might still be dreaming instead of doing.
Me: Cate! What an amazing story. I personally think grandma’s are magic. They sometimes know us better than we know ourselves.
What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Cate: I’m a Capricorn so I tend to be pretty tenacious. That has been invaluable as I pursued my dream of writing. The publishing business can be rough. There is no instant gratification. There is browbeating the muse to please, please, please talk to me. Then comes the bleeding on the page, followed by rejection and rewrites and…you get the picture. I completely understand why people quit along the way. It took me a couple years to figure out what I didn’t know about writing, a couple more years to start to learn the basics about writing romance and how to navigate the publishing industry. And I’m still learning, still growing as a writer. But I’m not giving up.It took me a couple years to figure out what I didn’t know about writing. #amwriting - @CateGrimm @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet
Me: Words to live by. I wish I had this great advice when I first started out.
What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Cate: Here’s that Capricorn thing again. I’m a perfectionist—and a former, high school English teacher. That makes me itch to go back and rewrite constantly. And that trait makes it very hard for me to power through a first draft so that I can revise and edit. There’s a Nora Roberts quote that says something like “you can fix a bad page but you can’t fix a blank page.” I try to allow myself to spew out pages of bad writing because I know I can fix it, pretty it up when I revise. But it is a constant battle to turn off the internal editor as a story comes to rough, imperfect life in that first draft.
Me: That is a struggle I deal with constantly, so you are not alone.
What was your high point as a writer?
Cate: After I joined NEORWA, I entered my chapter’s Cleveland Rocks Romance writing contest. It was the first time I showed someone else my work. I was terrified but I did it, even if it was anonymous. I ended up as a finalist in that contest and even though I didn’t win, I was awarded my chapter’s first June Lund Shiplett award for the NEORWA chapter member with the highest overall score in the contest. June was a founding member of my local chapter. I was blessed to meet June in person and receive the award from her. She also gifted me with a personalized copy of her book Journey to Yesterday. I keep it on my desk so that I see it every day when I write.
Me: I was terrified to let someone else read my work as well.
What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path?
Cate: In 2015, I had been working at writing for almost five years and I was starting to feel like I was just spinning my wheels and digging a deeper rut that I remained stuck in. I didn’t want to quit but what I was doing was not working. I felt like I hadn’t really found my voice as a writer. It was like I was trying on all these different styles and sub genres and nothing quite fit me. I chased trends instead of writing what I really loved and just couldn’t let my voice out. I was at a crossroads.
I spent some time evaluating where I was and where I wanted to go with my writing. I decided that I wanted to learn about my genre, I wanted to learn about the genre fiction industry and I wanted to push myself to hone my skills. As a former teacher, school—specifically graduate school—seemed like a good way for me to do this. I decided to apply to Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. I’m currently in my third term. I’m getting an MFA in Creative Writing and my thesis is a romance novel. How cool is that?! Along the way, I’ve met some fantastic authors, I’m studying my genre (from the classics of romance to contemporary rom and everything in between) and I’m studying other genres as well. I’m studying great writing and not so great writing, craft and the business of writing. All of it is making me a better writer. Along the way, I have found the courage to write outside my comfort zone and I have found my voice as a writer.
Me: That is beyond cool!
What’s the worst piece of writing advice you were ever given? How did you get beyond it?
Cate: Write what you know. This was a constant mantra I heard when I was just starting to get serious about writing with the intent to get published and build a career. And this was absolutely paralyzing for me. I thought I didn’t know anything. My life wasn’t filled with bad memories and angst. There was no real conflict, just day-to-day ups and downs. My life was too boring. So how could I write what I know and not bore a reader? The short answer was I couldn’t…if I wrote only what I knew. But, I could write what I want to know and set it in the genre I love. I love romance in all shapes and sizes. I also love to learn and the magic of Google basically puts the world at my fingertips. Embracing the idea of research really was freeing. Now, my biggest problem is not falling down the rabbit hole when I set out to do research. There are just so many interesting things to see and taste and touch and feel and learn.My life was too boring. So how could I write what I know and not bore a reader? #amwriting - @CateGrimm @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet
Me: If you could have dinner with any famous author who would it be? Why?
Cate: Deceased, Daphne du Maurier. She has this way of leaving you feeling haunted by a story even after you reach the end. She makes you question and think when you read all while propelling you through a story. I love that! And I want to know how to do that.
Living, Stephen King. I know, I know he’s not a romance author but he does the same as du Maurier I think. He evokes emotion from his readers. He just propels you through a story and he does it by making the everyday sort of terrifying. The first time I read Pet Sematary, I had to sleep with the lights on for months after. I’ve never been able to go back and reread that book. And Cujo? I’m a huge dog lover and a St. Bernard is the poster dog for rescuing and protecting people when they need it most. Except Cujo who is so not that dog! The way King twists a story to make you feel like you are reading on the edge of your seat is amazing. If I could evoke that much emotion, that much of a visceral response with my own work, I’d be a very happy writer.
Me: Stephen King is one of my all time favorite authors as well.
What’s your writer’s mantra? Why does that mantra speak to you?
Cate: Read a lot and write a lot. This is from a longer quote by Stephen King. He said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these things that I am aware of, no shortcut.”
Working to earn my MFA has helped me do both these things. I have found my writing skills have improved, my voice has become clear. I understand who I am as a writer and I understand who I want to become, too. Reading in a variety of genres, not just the one I write in, reading good writing and not so good writing helps me to analyze what works and what doesn’t. All that feeds my writing, and helps me exercise my writing muscle by getting words on a page on a regular basis as I try to practice what I’ve learned. These two things have been integral to building and growing my skill set as a writer.
Me: Love this! My favorite King quote is, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time (or the tools) to write.”
Tell me about your upcoming paranormal romance, Bootleg Magik.
It’s the roaring twenties, Prohibition is in full swing, and magik is the hottest commodity on the Cleveland bootleg market. What happens when an intoxicating bootlegger and an enchanting witch collide? Magik…
Practical, Irish, witch Rose Mary Kelly wants a family where she belongs–a coven family–and her ticket in is stealing a little black book from the most powerful bootlegger in town. Double, double, toil and big trouble erupts when Rose is caught in the act. She’s afraid she’ll be sent directly to jail, or worse banned from the coven, leaving herself and her younger sister unprotected. Until Theodore Marks offers her a bargain she can’t refuse.
Charismatic, Russian, bootlegger Theodore Marks needs to break the curse that is killing his sister—and to do that he needs to catch a witch. Laying the trap is easy, and a witch falls right into Theo’s grasp. Now, he is willing to beg, bargain or blackmail Rose into saving his sister. He just needs to figure out a way to keeps his hands off the charming woman with magik in her veins. If he’s not careful, he might end up being the one left spellbound.
Me: I can’t wait to read this! And seriously, the title alone would make me buy the book!
Share with us a favorite paragraph or two from your newest release. Why do you love this paragraph? What makes it special to you?
The man was a predator. A big, blond beast who wore power like a comfortable old shirt. That was more terrifying. . .and more tantilizing. . .than the custom cut suits most mugs wore like armor.
Rose remained frozen, tiny shivers skittering up her arms as he stalked toward her. Ten steps and he stood so close she could breathe him in.
Silky brilliantine, smooth whiskey, and custom blended tobacco wrapped around her in sentimental hug.
He smelled like her father’s little pub where all the blokes came to raise a pint and play a few rounds of draughts, throw a few darts and sing an Irish ditty or two.
He smelled like home.
And that realization sent a jitter of butterflies unfurling in her belly.
“Not the ved’ma I was expecting. . .but you’ll do.” The flavor of his Russian homeland rolled off his tongue with a tart snap of consonants.
“Ved’ma.” He repeated the word slowly, the rolling accent flattening out. “Witch.”
Witch. He knew she was a witch. Just not the one he’d been expecting.
Crappity, crap, crap, crap.
Or was that trappity, trap, trap, trap?
You can find Cate here:
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 now!
HUNT THE DAWN is available for pre-order now.