Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Promo- Kathy Otten

Today I'm pleased to showcase Wild Rose Press author Kathy Otten and her latest release, Between the Lines. This is a full length Cactus Rose, (historical western). If you haven't read this it is a must read. This books has you near tears one moment and laughing the next at the spunky heroine and tortured hero.

Kathy, how do you come up with ideas for stories?

I never really come up with ideas by hearing a piece of music or seeing something on TV. I get visual images of my characters, not really doing anything, they’re just there, lurking until I pay attention to them and start asking questions.
For Between the Lines, the initial image I saw in my mind was of a man in pain lying on his stomach saying, “Meggie, me back hurts.” I heard in my mind his thick Irish accent, but I didn’t know who he was or what he was doing there. Eventually I understood he had been shot saving the woman he loved. This started more question: who was trying to kill her, and why? Then when I researched Sing Sing prison I discovered the prisoners weren’t allowed to talk. Since Brendan probably wasn’t much of a talker after fifteen years of silence, I had Meg be the total opposite of him, open, na├»ve, and talkative. Originally I had Brendan living the life of a recluse in the timber country of Washington State. But since it was my first novel, I had a hard time keeping my opinions on the timber industry out of the story. So I changed the location and it seemed to bring out Brendan’s true personality more than the dark, cool woods.
I had also originally included a prologue, which as I’ve learned, wasn’t a good idea. I hated taking it out because I had worked so hard on the research, but by removing it, one particular scene packed more power because the reader didn’t know until that moment what had happened in the past.
And where most people go on too long at the end, my story ended too abruptly and at the last minute my editor asked for a final wedding scene. I panicked at first, but I had a piece of paper and while I was working out on the elliptical machine at the gym the scene started to come.
It’s been fun holding my book in my hands. I flip through the pages and read scenes, amazed that the original image had grown into a complete novel.

Anxious to escape the confines of her loving, but overprotective family, Meg Greyson travels to Wyoming Territory to marry the man of her dreams. Only she discovers Brendan Kelly is nothing like the gentleman rancher who penned her beautiful letters. As she comes to know this intimidating, yet tacit man, Meg finds herself constantly having to rationalize away his dark and dangerous side in order to conform him to her image of the perfect man who wrote her letters.
Brendan knows he should tell her the truth, but once he does, she will leave him forever. So he keeps pretending and every time she says, “I love you,” he dies a little more inside, for he knows he will never be the man she wants him to be.

“Be making no mistakes, Meg Greyson. ‘Tis a hard man I be and a hard life I be living. I’ve no room in it for
soft words and doe-eyed looks. And by the saints, I’ll be wanting none o’ yer damn pity!” He whirled on his heels.
His long strides took him quickly into the barn.
Meg stared after him, her emotions caught somewhere between wanting to give him a big hug and
wanting to hit him with a big rock. Lifting her chin, she marched into the dimly lit building and halted before him.
His hat on his head, he froze in the act of sliding his arm into the sleeve of his shirt. Cold jade eyes clashed with
Suddenly, she wheeled around, scanned the interior, strode to the corner, picked up a bucket and stalked back. Her
jaw set, she slammed the bucket upside-down on the floor at his feet. Then she snatched up the hem of her
skirt and with two sharp clicks of her heels against the wood, stomped on top. Though the extra height helped,
she was still forced to tip her head back in order to meet his narrow-eyed scowl.
“Mister Kelly! If you have had a hard life, so be it. But do not presume to bully me with your harsh words and
threatening looks. I have endured it for years from my family and I will not tolerate it from the man I marry!
Another thing! Do not be so quick to confuse pity with compassion. Understand, sir, I pity only those whom I
cannot respect. I offer my compassion to those that I care
Her nose in the air, she stepped off the bucket, picked it up, and replaced it in the corner. Then with her head
high, she marched from the barn and left him standing there with his shirt sleeve half way up his arm.

to purchase:

I am a working mom and I live in the open farm country of western NY with a husband and three college age kids.

Growing up, I lived in a small Vermont farm town where my parents owned the general store. My mom collected antiques and my dad loved the old movie cowboys. Consequently, my brothers and I grew up watching Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, and John Wayne on TV, and visiting places like Old Sturbridge Village and the Shelburne Museum.
The Nation's Bicentennial sparked an interest in Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain boys and my brothers and I spent many hours tromping through cow pastures looking at the ruins of forts which once guarded Lake Champlain. It was fascinating to wonder about the forgotten men who long ago, walked the same ground. On the parade grounds of a fort at Crown Point, NY, is the carving of a cannon on a large, flat stone. Done well over two hundred years ago, by some anonymous British solider far from home, anyone who sees it can't help but wonder who he was, if he made it back to his family, or if he was killed by a ball from an American long rifle. Images like these became fodder for my imagination, and notebooks began to accumulate in under my bed.

Actually I started writing in elementary school, creating such work as Lucky the Dog and The Lost Uranium Mine. My mom thought they were the greatest pieces of literature ever written, and today she is still my biggest fan.

In high school my nose was usually in a book by Max Brand, Zane Grey or Louis L'Amour. History, English and Creative Writing were easy A's. We won't discuss Algebra, Biology or gym class. But during this time I wrote a short story called The Letter, about a teenage boy dealing with the death of his brother. I entered it in a contest and as a winner, the story was published in Young Ambassador, a magazine for Christian teens.

Not much writing was done during the next few years. Marriage, kids and a dairy farm came along. But while I was nursing the kids in the middle of the night, (we didn’t have cable) I discovered the Harlequins in the grocery check-out line, (that's where they put them back then) were a good way to pass the time. With a baby in one hand and a paperback in the other, came the epiphany, "Why, I can write a better story than this!"

Out came the notebooks and the eventual realization that writing a romance is not as easy at it would seem. As a matter of fact it was down-right hard. After a few rejection letters the notebooks went back under the bed.

It wasn't until the cows were sold and the kids were all in school that my neighbors offered me their old computer. And what could be done with an old computer lacking internet service? Out came the notebooks. This time I decided to get serious and started to read about the craft of writing and I joined two area writers groups. The old stories were rewritten and rewritten. The help from other struggling writers has been invaluable to me and my writing has been moving forward ever since.

To relax I take long walks with my two large dogs, who usually drag me along behind them while they root through the tall grass and underbrush of the woods and fields we trek. In the winter I love to curl up with a good book and one or two of our four cats, while the snow blows outside. In between the kids, my job and the animals, I am usually in front of my computer, weaving stories of laughter, heartache and love for the crazy cast of characters swirling around in my head.

Kathy, thank you for begin here today!


Sarita Leone said...

What a great interview! Love the excerpt, too.

Kathy Otten said...

Thank you, Sarita.

Skhye said...

Love the interview and excerpt. Thanks for sharing. Skhye

Debra St. John said...

Great interview. I love how your story developed piece by piece as you added more layers.

Jacquie Rogers said...

Sounds like a wonderful book, Kathy. I'm gonna check it out for sure. Westerns are my first love. :)


Helen Hardt said...

Hi Paty and Kathy! Kathy, this sounds like a wonderful read. Thanks so much for sharing!


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Kathy,
Great interview. Ah a woman of my own heart, I loved reading Zane Grey when I was younger. They were my mother's favourite books. She ready everyone of of them. Lovely excerpt too.

Kathy Otten said...

Thanks everyone for your kind words. This is my first published novel and like for many authors, ver special.

Lauri said...

Wonderful interview, Kathy! As well as a great excerpt. I love the bucket! LOL.


Chiron said...

Fabulous interview! And your book sounds yummy...