Whoever coined the phrase my life is an open book must have lived in a small town. Let's face it. How many secrets can you have when you live in a place with only two stoplights, where people’s business is routine fodder for daily discussion at the local coffee shop or the aisles of the grocery store? Still, maybe I can share a secret or two about myself that will lift the eyebrows of some of my closest friends.
MY NAME IS KATHLEEN AND I AM AN ADDICT
I am an addict, and I have no control when it comes to office supplies. I'm addicted to the smell of freshly sharpened pencils. To the crisp sound that comes from cracking open the spine of a new notebook. To the clickety-clack of the computer keyboard. Willpower is no cure for my problem. Once an addict, always an addict. Whenever I find myself desperate for a fix, I hunt out the nearest office supply store. I stalk the shelves, searching for the best deal on gel-tip pens, checking prices on the newest laser printer, reveling in the sight of 20 lb. copy paper, ream upon ream lining the aisles. Bliss! Who could ask for more? Not me! I've no plans for joining Office Supplies Anonymous any time soon.
I’M INVOLVED IN A LOVE AFFAIR
Okay, it's not exactly illicit, seeing as how marriage vows were exchanged. My husband Steve and I have been living out our own version of happily-ever-after for 30 years+. Talk about fairy-tale romance. We met at a church wedding. He was the best man and I was the maid of honor. Do you believe in karma? The ying-yang makes our relationship work. I'm a writer, Steve's a voracious reader. I freak at the sight of a burning building, while he bravely heads inside to douse the flames. Steve's a certified hero through our local fire department, and he's my hero, too (read more about him in EXTRAS - Never Tell A Therapist No.). We're a perfect match in so many ways. It's hard to find a dancing partner when you're 5'11", but Steve (who towers above me at nearly 6'4") and I fit together just right. I am blessed to be one of those fortunate women who knows what it is like to feel adored and absolutely loved. Know what's wonderful about love like that? It gives you the courage to challenge yourself, to explore the limitless possibilities hidden within, to soar to places you never dreamed possible. Steve has always been my champion. With his love behind me, I believe I can accomplish anything. Our Abby, an only child, is a teacher and our best gift to the world. Abby is now living her own happily-ever-after with husband Patrick and their twin sons. (If you love wedding pictures, be sure and check out my Photo Gallery!)
I DON’T ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH
Umm, perhaps I should qualify that statement. I'm actually a big proponent of truth, honor and the American way. If not, I never would have made it through sixteen years in administration working for the Catholic Church, or eight years for one of Michigan's top law firms. But anyone who knows me just a teensy bit is aware I've been known to tweak the facts if it makes for a better story. Because when you're a writer, that's what it's all about, right? Telling a good story.
Write what you know, or so the saying goes. Fact (and yes, this is true): Before I graduated from high school, I weighed 300 lbs. FATTY PATTY was born out of my remembrances of the grade school playground and the teasing I endured. My nickname back then was “Baby Huey”. Any of you old enough to remember the cartoon character of the fat duck with the baby bonnet and distinctive waddle will understand how much that nickname hurt. The extra pounds have long since disappeared, but the emotional scars will be a part of me forever. HOME FIRESis a tribute to my hero-husband-fireman Steve, and the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every time they're toned out by 911 to respond to a fire call. Real people. Real lives. Real heroes. All of them.
WHEN IT COMES TO OTHER WOMEN, I’M THE ODD ONE OUT
I stand in awe of women who pop out of bed each morning and rush to embrace whatever the day may bring while managing to look absolutely gorgeous. How do they do it? I’m certainly not one of them. I flunked out as a Brownie Troop leader and PTA mom while Abby was young. Now she's an adult, the pressure's off. Still, working my day job at a world-renowned Castle which hosts weddings (how romantic!), keeping track of Steve, our house, and one uppity Persian cat, all while jealousy guarding my writing time keeps me plenty busy. Baking, cooking, hosting big family dinners? I thought that’s why God invented restaurants. And while I adore the girls from SEX IN THE CITY, we have little in common. Manicures? Facials? Massages? Those things scare me. Perhaps at times I may look like I’m put together, but I’m the first to admit I have no interest in the latest fashion trends, the season's hottest colors, or the latest style in shoes (I'm more into laser printers and gel pens, remember?). You can't go wrong with the classics, or so the good nuns taught me. Clean straight lines, with not much clutter, is how I prefer my closet to look. The same applies to my book shelves, which contain the works of my favorite authors … some vintage, some modern, but all classics in their own right: Victoria Holt, Elizabeth Berg, Jennifer Weiner, Jodi Picoult, LaVyrle Spencer, Jane Porter, Roxanne St. Claire —and Jane Austen, the Queen of Romance.
I TAKE TOTAL CREDIT FOR ANY SUCCESS THAT COMES MY WAY
Not likely. I owe an enormous debt of thanks to a whole slew of people. Romance Writers of America ("RWA") for providing its members with such a well organized, informative, knowledgeable group of professional writers. My writing mentors (wonderful women, you know who you are), multi-pubbed authors so gracious in sharing their time and advice as they watch me journey down this somewhat bumpy road to publication. The Queen of Hearts Club, a tremendous source of camaraderie, friendship and support for years. My three critique partners, who share so freely of their time, talent and red ink. And let's not forget the Industry Professionals. To all the editors and agents who have offered encouragement or editorial advice, a thousand many thanks. To the IPs who have sent me form rejection letters, many thanks as well. Each one I receive helps toughen me up. As one of my mentors once told me, "Perseverance and persistence, along with discipline, determination and confidence, are EVERY bit as important as talent ... Your belief in yourself ... is THE ONLY THING that separates you from the hundreds that will fall by the wayside without their dreams and goals realized."
I’M THINKING ABOUT RUNNING AWAY FROM HOME
I’ve lived in Northern Michigan nearly my entire life, and it’s provided the setting for some of my stories. Summertime is gorgeous, but the winters can be brutal. And I hate snow. I hate cold weather. I hate any day that begins with the outside temperature hovering below sixty degrees. As far as I'm concerned, the saddest day of the year occurs sometime mid-autumn when I haul my rocking chair off the front porch and store it in the garage where it forlornly sits, waiting out the winter. So what am I doing still living in the Midwest? Good question! I often ask myself the same thing —especially mid-January, when the skies are best described as gloomy; when Lake Michigan has iced over into a vast expanse of frozen tundra; when cabin fever hits and there's nothing left to do but kick back, chill out, and try and figure out what to do with the time. That's when I recall the true gift a Northern Michigan winter offers. Time. Lots of time. Time with family and friends. Time to work on my stories. Time to curl up with a good book.
Which leads me to my last confession ...
I’M A SUCKER FOR ROMANCE
I live for happily-ever-after endings. Life can be grim and tough enough without being reminded of it through the fiction we read. My goal is to provide some respite to those in need of a break from the weariness of the world. Hopefully my stories speak of courage and faith, of family and friendship. Of hearts that are often broken but always mended by the one thing that never fails us if we allow ourselves to truly embrace it:
*Wedding and Fire Photos courtesy of Julie Christiansen