"Coffee with Cathy." A chat with multi-genre author Cathleen Maza
Well, hello there! I’m so glad you could stop by today for a little heart to heart conversation about being an author. Have a seat in my dining room, which happens to be my favorite spot to write in. As you can see, there’s lots of natural woodwork and a lovely set of leaded glass windows that overlook the yard and cottage gardens. I know it’s a bit bare out there in March, but isn’t all of the natural light amazing? Now…help yourself to a cup of coffee, grab a few cookies, and let’s talk about writing!
What’s that? What writing rules do I consider the most important to follow?
Hmmm…I’d say the most important rule to remember is that there are no rules. Seriously! It’s called “Creative Writing” for a reason. Writers have great passion for their craft and most of us know exactly how we want to express that. Letting anyone else into your head with so-called rules when you’re writing diminishes your unique voice. Once you have your story completed, then work out whatever editing youthink is necessary. I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t have an editor,
I’m just letting you know that it’s still your work at the end of the day. Don’t be afraid to override the editor if you feel strongly about something. If you love your main character’s stream of conscious sentences that aren’t grammatically correct, then let them be. If you think your story is most powerful using only dialogue, go for it. Own the fact that you may not be a mainstream kind of storyteller and embrace it.
What to do if other authors bash you for not following their rules.
Smile and stand your ground. If your writing isn’t authentic, readers will pick up on it. Be you and attract a following of those who can appreciate your genuine writing voice.
Are you doubting yourself because other writers sell more books?
Then learn to roll with the punches and have faith in your work. There is no easy formula for an author’s success and trying to imitate others doesn’t feed your own need for a creative outlet. It takes immeasurable heart and soul to pursue even a small writing career. Make friends with the fact that you may never be rich and write anyway because it’s in your blood.
How do I, personally, feel about keeping a word count?
Pretty much the same way I feel about rules. Do your story the honor of letting it have a natural life. Whether it ends up as a piece of flash fiction or a six-hundred-page novel, don’t ruin powerful writing by trying to make it fit into a pre-determined box. Whenever I start writing, I’m never fully aware of where it’s going. The end point might become clear in two paragraphs or down the road at two hundred. I know I’m primarily a short fiction writer because I love going in, making a point, and then getting out quickly. Last year, however, I had a story idea that I knew was going to take a lot longer to play out. The story morphed into what is now going to be my debut novel. After it’s released (hopefully by the end of spring) I may just sit down and write another. But I can also see myself returning to short fiction with no qualms. When it comes to my work, I might be the one typing the words but I’m definitely not always aware of the final destination.
Which genre do I write in?
Another one of my favorite questions! With the exception of erotica/romance, I think I’ve dabbled in all of them. Yep, I’m a real rule breaker all the way across the board. Whatever genre I’m tackling, though, the stories do tend to lean towards the dark side. I consider that to be my signature style, along with the fact that I don’t like to overdo details. I always leave room for the reader to stretch their imagination along with my own. Never be afraid to experiment!
Listen, it’s great that we’ve had this chance to talk shop, but I do have an ulterior motive here. I know that being a writer takes a lot of hard work and it can be easy to get discouraged. You may even feel like giving up at some point. Please don’t. Creativity is a beautiful thing and has no legal age requirement or expiration date. I’ve been a writer since I was nine years old, but I didn’t get to really work at it until I was in my late forties. Life happens. I got my first literary magazine publication when I turned fifty and that came after I had marketed fifteen stories and racked up over one hundred rejections. But guess what? After that first publication my work was picked up regularly and gave me the courage to start my journey into indie publishing. Stay strong and keep the faith. I promise that your first publication will be worth it.
Now I know you’ve got places to go and things to do, so I’ll let you be on your way. Thanks so much for dropping by and don’t be a stranger. I’ve usually got a pot of coffee or tea brewing and you’re always welcome to join me. Take care and happy writing!
Cathleen Maza lives and writes full time in the Gunderson Historic District of Oak Park, Illinois, where she shares a one-hundred-year-old home with her family. A proud member of the Society of Midland Authors, her short stories have appeared in such literary venues as Chicago Quarterly Review, Crack the Spine, and Clover, A Literary Rag. Cathleen has self-published seven short story collections; the most recent, “Changing Neighborhood” was published in April 2019. She is also the author of a six novella YA sci-fi series (published as C.A. Maza) and is currently working on finalizing the manuscript of her debut supernatural suspense novel “Inheritance”
Traditionally Published Literary Work
Flammable– A short story published in Volume 18 (June 2014) of “Chicago Quarterly Review”
Family Function – A short story published in Volume 9 (Summer 2015) of “Clover; A Literary Magazine”
Self-Evaluation – A flash fiction piece published in the Winter online edition (November 2014) of “The Vehicle”
Doing Right by Mavis – A short story published online (June 2015) by “Knee Jerk”
Only Just Begun – A flash fiction piece published online in Issue 151 (July 2015) of “Crack the Spine Literary Magazine
Same Problems, Other Worlds – A six story collection of Dark Fantasy
Stress Fractures – An eighteen story collection of Contemporary Fiction
Complicated Heart- A fourteen story collection of Dark Literary Fiction
Noises in the Dark – A nine story collection of Supernatural Fiction
Inner Lives and Outer Selves – A twelve story collection of Women’s Fiction
Mind Fullness – An eleven story collection of Dark Psychological Fiction
Changing Neighborhood – A twenty story collection of Historical Fiction (1970’s)
Thank you for taking the time for us and for sharing the gorgeous and mysterious cover reveal of your new paranormal novel INHERITED -in progress. I cannot wait to read when it comes out in the next few months.
My biggest takeaway was, “You may even feel like giving up at some point. Please don’t. Creativity is a beautiful thing and has no legal age requirement or expiration date.”
I love that you never gave up and you hold your ground when it comes to your creative life. I admire that immensely and can’t wait to meet you in person the next time you travel to Savannah.
Thank you for joining us here and to everyone supporting my creative work as The Literati. If you are interested in being on Indie Spotlight from July 2020 forward, please introduce yourself with a short bio and an elevator pitch to https://www.bibianakrall.com/contact.
Until next time, find your Peace,Love, Hustle, then Read or Write. Xox - Bibiana