Cate Masters is a very approachable lady who, despite her busy schedule, always finds time to cheer on other authors and pop in on their blogs to comment and share her insight. Yet behind the humility and ready smile lies a hard working woman with 21 published books in her arsenal and more to come. My belief is that readers who are not yet familiar with Cate Masters should stand up and notice. I couldn't resist pulling the following from her blog because I think her achievements are many and deserve to be highlighted:
Her novellas, short stories and flash fiction appear at various epress sites and web zines as well as Flesh from Ashes (2005), Quality Women's Fiction (2005), Phase (2004), and The Writer's online edition.
Her freelance articles have appeared in The Sentinel, Carlisle.
In 2011, four stories finaled in the EPIC competition: One Soul for Sale (paranormal); Going with Gravity (contemporary); Picture This (contemporary); and Wilderness Girl (contemporary erotic romance).
In 2010, The Pearl S. Buck Foundation awarded first place to her short literary story, Christmas Eve at the Diner on Rathole Street.
Her short literary story, All is Calm, All is Bright, was awarded second place in the annual Pennwriters Short Story contest in 2005.
In addition to her own blog, she's a contributor at The Susquehanna Writers and The Paranormalists.
I am therefore proud to have the talented Cate share her writing journey and experience with my blog readers.
How long have you been writing?
Yikes, if I told you that, you’d know how old I am. Since grade school, I’ve always written in some form – poetry, essays, the school newspaper. In my 20s, I turned to fiction and just fell in love with the wonderful freedom of creating worlds.
When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?
I can’t recall any moment of epiphany. I simply wrote, and submitted. The more I write, the more ideas my muse throws at me, so I have to scramble to keep up with her!
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
There was never an announcement, really. Like my parents, my kids saw me writing so it was just another day for them to stalk the computer, waiting their turn to play games (ah, the days before Facebook!). Though now that I think about it, maybe that’s an important step writers should take – stand up in front of friends and family and firmly state that they’re writers. Not that they want to be writers. If you write, you’re a writer. Period. The admission may work in our favor, too – then we can say, “Sorry, can’t make dinner, I have to finish this story” and our families would know better than to interrupt our flow!
Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?
While my kids were little, writing took a back seat to parenting and the day job. I was lucky that my hubby encouraged me to stay home and write, and I took advantage of that for a few years.
Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?
More than I can recall. Over the years, I’ve taken local classes, seminars and workshops, taken online courses, gone to conferences, and bought tons of how-to books. It’s something I’ll always continue, and a few remain on my bucket list such as Robert McKee’s Story seminar.
Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?
Absolutely. My crit partners are a critical part of the writing process. Each has a different take on the story so each adds a valuable perspective. I’d never put any work out there without them vetting it first.
Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?
When I first began submitting, I used my maiden name of Masterson. Later I shortened it to Masters so it was easier to remember, but I’ve always loved the idea of retaining that original part of me, the girl who discovered who she was through writing.
How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?
For a few years, I’d had some success with submitting short stories to literary and web zines, and had amassed quite a backlog of stories of longer, varying lengths. One of my critique partners encouraged me to submit to The Wild Rose Press. Until then, I didn’t know about online presses, so I researched several, and submitted to several. In the first year, I had more than a dozen acceptances, so it was a bit of a whirlwind year! I had a large learning curve ahead of me, but I absolutely love that online presses accept such a wide variety of story lengths. To me, that’s one of their greatest strengths. They have so much more flexibility, their catalogues offer something for every reader.
Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?
No, that novel’s yet unpublished, though I haven’t given up on it. Someday when I have more time, I’ll revise it. I spent years researching the constellations and their associated mythology, and the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, over which the novel spans. The story’s very dear to my heart.
How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?
I rewrote it a few times, but then after several rejections, set it aside. It still needs work. But over the years, I’ve learned revision’s the most important part of the writing process. At first it seemed horribly grueling work, and now it’s still horribly grueling, lol. But I realized the age-old advice held true – revision’s where the real story comes through.
Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?
I subbed directly to small online presses. At this point, I don’t know what value an agent would add to the process. Maybe after the playing field levels out and online presses operate in line with the Big Six, offering advances and publicity, etc., an agent might become necessary.
If you signed with an agent, how did you go about the process of finding your agent/publisher?
Without benefit of an agent, I researched the publishers’ guidelines before submitting. There’s no use subbing stories to a publisher which doesn’t accept that genre. It takes months for editors to consider a story, so why waste my time and theirs?
Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?
Over the years, I collected rejection slips in a file, until the folder bulged. One day I decided to burn them all – my personal Bonfire of the Vanities. It was so freeing! Of course, those were the days before electronic submissions. Now I can just hit delete. :)
Rejections can be difficult, but I learned they serve a purpose. If you submit to a publisher you respect and receive a rejection, your story’s lacking something. So you revise again. If it’s a “good” rejection containing suggestions, you take their advice to heart and resubmit. It’s all part of the learning process.
What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?
I honestly can’t say. Perhaps a mix of both? I’ve no experience as far as agents, but I’d hope that publishers would disregard trends, at least to some degree – and perhaps try to start their own! As a reader, I don’t look for certain genres, but base what I buy on whether the blurb or story premise hooks me, and if the author’s a good writer.
What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)?
It’s exciting and scary. So many have made predictions, but I don’t believe anyone truly knows how it will all pan out. Or maybe it will never stop evolving – who knows? I’m just grateful to be along for the ride, and reaching readers.
Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?
As an author who does self-publish, yes. :) As rights have come up for renewal, I’ve asked for them returned, and self-published those stories – after revising and changing the covers. For the few I’ve self-published without subbing to publishers, those stories went through the same rigorous revisions and critiques as subbed stories. I wanted to be sure they were as good or better. I’ve had some experience with layout and graphics, so did my own covers and am excited that the covers for The Magic of Lavender and Dead to Rights won cover contests.
With the industry shifting as it is, the stigma of self-publishing has faded. I believe it’s up to the author to prove herself to her readers, and if readers like your work, they’ll support you regardless. As always, it’s all about the story.
Are your books available in print or in digital format?
Some are available in print, but most are electronic.
What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?
To me, the standard advice applies – learn your craft, take it seriously enough to do your best, and write the story you’d want to read.
What are you working on now?
So many WIPs are calling my name… At least three more in The Goddess Connection, a paranormal series I kicked off this year with The Magic of Lavender. Some short fantasies and paranormals, a few contemporaries and another historical. I actually just finished a short fantasy, so haven’t yet dug into one specific project.
What's your website URL?
This year, I consolidated everything into my blog: http://catemasters.blogspot.com
Are you on Facebook?
Yes, my page is here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cate-Masters/89969413736?ref=ts
How do you connect with readers?
Any way I can! My blog, Facebook, Goodreads, chats, booksignings and other “live” events. I love talking to readers.
Some info on latest and upcoming releases:
This year’s been another crazy one. I’ve re-released eight previously published titles, plus self-published another four stories that I’d worked on for more than a year. Lyrical Press released my contemporary, Rock Bottom, and Whiskey Creek Press released my mainstream The Bridge Between.
On Oct. 26, The Wild Rose Press will release Romancing the Hero, and follow on Nov. 30 with my Christmas story, Ground Rules – both very fun fantasies.
What is/are your favourite book(s)?
I can never pick favorites. My bookshelves are literally bursting, and contain nearly every genre of fiction, as well as nonfiction. I’m a research addict, so love to keep reference books handy.
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?
Not generally. I’m afraid reading another story will influence my thinking, if only in subtle ways. I prefer to focus fully on my own story, then read in between writing.
What book inspired you to write romance (or whatever genre you write in)?
I think it was more a collective inspiration. Margaret Atwood’s dark speculative fiction had an incredible impact, as did Alice Hoffman’s magical realism, Michael Chabon’s mainstream and fantasy, and TC Boyle’s mainstream and speculative. As eclectic as my reading is, my writing reflects that, and sometimes defies neat categorization into a specific genre.
What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?
I fall in love with every character as I write each new story. That may sound like a cop-out, but to me, it’s an essential part of writing. It allows me to get inside each character’s head to feel what they feel and hopefully, convey it well enough so the reader feels it too.
Anything you wish to add?
I do have a freebie I just put out with four other authors, all paranormal romance short stories that's available from Smashwords. We just put it out Friday and it's already become very popular! Maybe everyone's in the Halloween spirit early. :)
Multipublished, award-winning author Cate Masters loves stories with a dash of magic, mayhem and romance! Reviewers have described her stories as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” and “such romantic tales that really touch your soul.”
When not spending time with her family, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com, and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.
Thanks so much for having me as a guest, Angela! It’s been a pleasure.
~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love. "Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.