Monday, 21 February 2011
The Big Break with Cathleen Holst
How long had you been dreaming of being published before you got that life changing phone call?
I’d secretly been dreaming of it for many, many years. But for fear of being laughed at I didn’t share my love of writing with anyone until 2007. I wish I hadn't waited so long.
What was your first reaction when you found out that your book ‘Everleigh in NYC’ was to be published? How did it make you feel?
My honest-to-goodness reaction was speechlessness. It all felt so surreal. It still does in a lot of ways.
What were you doing when you found out?
At that time I didn’t have a laptop so I felt chained to the desktop in our office downstairs in the basement. I had just logged in to check my emails that morning and there it was—a message from the publishing house with a one-book deal. I think I almost spilled my coffee, and just remember staring at the email, thinking I must be reading it wrong.
Who did you tell first?
My husband. I can’t remember exactly what he was doing, but I think he was repairing the kitchen sink or the dishwasher because I only remember talking excitedly to his knees.
How long did it take for your first book to be published after you had been told?
11 months. Everleigh’s story was picked up by a small publishing house, so it all went relatively fast.
What was happening to your manuscript during this time?
Oh my goodness. I could write a book about that. Everleigh went through a major rewrite. So major that I worried the editor would no longer want it. I drafted a new synopsis and sent it off to her, apologizing profusely for changing so much, but told her I felt confident that the story was much stronger for it. Thank heavens she agreed. It took seven months, an unnatural amount of coffee, and countless sleepless nights for Everleigh’s story to become what it is now.
How did you cope whilst waiting for publication day?
I never thought the day would arrive. There were a few kinks along the way, which caused the release to be pushed back a couple of times, but in the end, Everleigh finally made her debut, and seems to be doing fairly well, which makes me really happy.
How did it feel to see your name in print?
I have to agree with Beth on this one. As much as it gave me a sense of pride or accomplishment at seeing my name printed on the cover, I was just over the moon with delight that others could now read and (hopefully) enjoy Everleigh’s story as much as I did. She was a lot of fun to write.
Where was the first place that your saw your book on sale and did you do anything crazy when you saw it?
Since I signed with a small publishing house, unfortunately my book isn’t sold in any bookstores. It’s online only. One day I hope to experience what it feels like to see my work on the shelf of a bookstore. Who knows, maybe it’ll be displayed next to Miss Beth’s (Hoffman, Holst). It could happen.
I noticed that you are presently writing another book called ‘A Christmas in Fir Creek’, how is the writing going?
Oh, I’m so glad you asked about this story. The writing is coming along unbelievably well. I hope I didn’t just jinx myself. But I adore this story. It’s a drastic departure from Everleigh, but one I hope folks are able to enjoy just as much. I know I sure am.
What advice would you give unpublished authors?
My advice would be this: Don’t rush through polishing your manuscript. Do all you can to make sure your baby shines. Believe me, there’s always room for improvement. And if you can afford to hire a professional editor...do it, do it, do it. Also, do your homework. Research the industry, and when you find an agent who you feel could be a good match for your work (the agents are usually pretty clear on the type of work they’re interested in) draft your submission and send it off to them exactly the way they request it. And if you get a rejection letter don’t let it get you down. Move on to the next. If you feel the need to say something to the agent who sent you a rejection letter, resist the urge. You will be doing yourself no favors by doing this. I liken it to the contestants on American Idol who remain onstage, arguing, after the judges tell them they’re not going to make it. Remain gracious. And above all, remain professional. The last thing you want is giving yourself a bad reputation before you even have the chance to make it. And above all, enjoy it. (End Sermon Here, haha.)
Thank you again Cathleen for joining us today, we all wish you well with your debut novel 'Everleigh in NYC' and your second manuscript.