Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway - Cathy Gohlke - Part 1

Cathy Gohlke and I met at a book signing event several years ago. We've become good friends, and I'm thrilled she took time out of her busy schedule to do this interview and giveaway.

I see the giveaway perked up your interest! Don't miss an opportunity to enter the drawing for her latest book, Promise Me This. Check out the details at the end of this post.

1) Welcome, Cathy! I notice you used multiple points of view in your latest story. How do you keep track of them? What prompted you to go that route rather than use one or two POV's?

Ah, you've hit upon one of my greatest challenges in writing this book. Both of my earlier books were written in first person, and I love the comfort of writing in that point of view. It's a natural storyteller's voice. But there were so many parts to this story--so many points of view needed to share the full experience--that writing in only one was out of the question.

Promise Me This is a picture of Christ's love story to the world--hence, Owen's viewpoint. It is also a picture of our response to Christ's unmerited gift of salvation--hence, the viewpoint of Michael, the young Titanic stowaway saved by Owen's grace and through his personal sacrifice. And then there is Annie, Owen's younger sister, whose viewpoint demonstrates our reluctance to forgive, even when we've been loved and forgiven. Annie shows through the experiences of her life, the differences between loving sacrificially, like Christ, and being coerced and guilted into serving.

Keeping track of these points of view, and even those of minor characters, was helped by thinking of all the characters as players upon a stage. The eye can only keep track of and the mind fully absorb one character's actions at a time. Everyone must be present--somewhere--and accounted for, but only one person can tell their story, until they relinquish the stage to another through (in novel form) new scenes or chapters or simply by changing points of view within a scene.

By allowing characters to speak freely, in their individual manner, the voices are distinguished. Once I begin "hearing" their unique voice and their perspective on the story, it's easier to see who needs to tell that portion of the story most.

2) We all like to hear about a writer's journey to publication. Would you tell us about how you landed a contract with your first book, William Henry Is A Fine Name?

When my novel was completed and as polished as I knew how to make it at the time, I looked up submission guidelines for publishers I thought likely to be interested. Following those guidelines, I submitted query letters and (if wanted) sample chapters to 23 ABA publishers.

My desire was to get a good book with strong moral content and that focused on a young person's ability to choose and stand by the consequences of his actions into schools and public libraries. I got a few bites, but no contracts. By the time most of my query letters were answered with rejections, I decided to try the CBA.

Not having an agent and unable to afford a Christian writers conference, I emailed The Writer's Edge, an on-line magazine that sends monthly listings of accepted books to Christian publishing houses. Details of my manuscript were listed in the magazine.

The idea was that if an editor saw something that piqued his/her interest, they would contact the author, and request the complete manuscript. Three editors contacted me, and after I showed myself willing and able to revise the manuscript, a contract was offered. I signed that contract on my 50th birthday--the beginning of a whole new life.

Giveaway Details:

1) The giveaway is open to Followers and new Followers of Christian Writer/Reader Connection, who reside in the United States. The drawing is void where prohibited.

2) Leave a comment on this post with your email address. Next Wednesday, you'll have an opportunity to comment for another entry. If you mention the giveaway on your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, I'll give you another entry for each one as long as you inform me in your comment here.

3) The deadline is midnight, Saturday, March 31, 2012. The winner will be drawn on Sunday, April 1, 2012, and notified via email. I'll also make an announcement on the blog on Sunday, April 1, 2012. When you send me your snail mail address, I'll forward it to Cathy, and she'll send you her book.

Disclosure: The author provided me with her book for review purposes. The opinions, as always, are totally my own.

Question for writers: What point of view is most comfortable for you as a writer and why?

Question for readers: What point of view do you prefer reading? Do you enjoy a character speaking in first person or getting into the head of many characters in a book?


Anonymous said...

: ) ok you have piqued my curiosity on how she wove more than one point of view throughout her book... I would like to read it. Cindy

Marja Verschoor-Meijers said...

Thanks Susan for yet another great interview. Always interesting to read about the road others have taken.

Karen Lange said...

Thanks, ladies, for a wonderful interview. Cathy's insight is helpful and inspiring.

As far as POV, I prefer it when a book doesn't have too many. For me, it's easier to keep track of the characters and action that way. Cathy handled the POV beautifully. I like her advice regarding this.

Don't enter me in the giveaway; I have already been blessed with a copy. It's a wonderful book!


Jessica Nelson said...

I had no clue Writer's Edge was read by editors. And that THREE contacted Gohlke. WOW!!

She's a wonderful writer and I'm looking forward to reading her newest book. :-)

Loree Huebner said...

I love that you signed the contract on your 50th birthday. Life really does begin at 50!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy - Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Hi Marja - Cathy's journey is a fascinating one.

Hi Karen - I like multiple POV books. I think it gives the reader more insight into the characters' actions.

Hi Jess - I think it's unusual. At the last writers conference I attended, the editors said they rarely had time to look at Writers Edge or similar sites.

Hi Loree - Nice birthday gift! I hope she's writing a memoir for her family. :)


Sarah Forgrave said...

Wow, what an awesome birthday present! Congratulations on your book, Cathy. I've heard nothing but glowing praises.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great interview and congrats on your book Cathy! Susan - I have an award for you on my blog today:
My e-mail is

Jeanette Levellie said...

OH, I love it that Cathy signed her contract on her 50th bd--that is so encouraging!

Please enter my name in the drawing--this sounds like a wonderful read.



Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sarah - I liked that part of her story as well. If some editor wants to bestow such a birthday blessing on me, I'll be happy to accept. :)

Hi Tyrean - Wow! Thank you. I'll pop over to see you.

Hi Jen - I loved this book from start to finish.

Susan :)

Ceska said...

This is such a great story of God's provision. Life might not be awesome and joyous all the time, but that doesn't mean God has abandoned us! We have hope in Jesus. Throughout the story the main characters strengthen their relationship with God. I highly recommend this book if you like historical fiction. Although this could have very well been the story of someone's life back then. Just when you think you have things figured out something else happens. Cathy Gohlke can really write a great story. Hate, loss, bitterness, hopelessness, doubt, sacrifice, happiness, love, forgiveness, and's all in this book. I wanted to read this book for the historical factor, but got so much more out of it.