Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kathryn Meyer Griffith, author of 14 Novels and 7 Short Stories Chats About Why She Became a Writer

I would very much like to welcome Kathryn Meyer Griffith, author of 14 novels and 7 short stories. Ms. Griffith was nice enough to answer a few questions for me about her books, her long career and her life. Thank you so much for stopping by Emeraldfire's Bookmark, Ms. Griffith, and I wish you all the best with your further adventures.

Meet Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21 and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance and two mysteries) previous novels published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, Sasha and Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: So, Kathryn, what started you off as an author?

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: Truthfully, what started me off as an author was simply this: As a child, about eight or nine years old (the same time I began to draw pictures in pencil and years before I began to dream about being a singer with my younger brother Jim), I began reading books, science fiction, historical romances and scary books from the library. I had six brothers and sisters and though I had a loving mother and father, a loving family, there was very little money. I can’t say we were poverty poor, but we were poor at times. Sometimes our meals were scarce and we never had extra money for many toys or outside entertainment. I think in my whole young childhood my father only took us out to eat once. Try paying for seven kids and two adults. So we learned to entertain ourselves. Played outside. Climbed trees and hid in deep dirt gullies. Sang, howled really, outside at night on the swing set.

I loved to read. The library books were free and plentiful. I’d sit on my bed, especially during the long summer days and evenings (after chores were done, of course) and read one amazing book after another. If I was lucky, with a chocolate snack or cherry Kool-Aid nearby. Those books, those words on the page, took me away to other places, times and worlds. It was magical. I got lost in people-on-a-spaceship-going–to-some-faraway-planet science fiction books. There was this one horse book when I was a kid that knocked me out, made me cry, and laugh with joy at the end it was so real to me and so full of pathos because I loved horses so much. It was called Smoky. Loved that book. Sigh. I never forgot how those wonderful books made me feel…so free. So adventurous. So rich. Like I could be or do anything someday. And when I grew up I wanted to create that magic myself for others. So…that’s why I began writing. And when I get depressed over my writing at times, I remember that.

I remember vividly one day at school (I must have been about 10 or so) when a big box of Weekly Reader books were delivered and we each got to pick one to read. The smell of those new books in that box as I looked at them, the excitement and awe of the other kids over the books and the reverence for those authors, and I thought: Wouldn’t it be something if someday a box of these books were mine…written by me? Oh, to be an author. People respect an author. It was the beginning.

Then there’s also a second part to the question: Why do I keep writing after 39 years? Because I can’t not write. I can’t stop. The stories take over my heart and mind and demand to come out. It’s sort of like birthing a baby (I have one real son and two grandchildren myself). You carry them for a while, a short or long time span, and then once they’re born (published) they go on to be their own individual entities that sometimes continue to amuse and amaze you. Or disappoint you. Whatever.



Emeraldfire's Bookmark: What is it like to be a published author?

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: It’s not like anything you would imagine. There’s excitement, the passion and feeling of being right with the world, as the story is being created and the words are tumbling out into the computer; there’s the exhaustion of writing hours and hours, the doubt that your words will mean anything to anyone and why am I doing this? that creeps in but that you have to chase away; there’s the pride in seeing the finished book, either e-book or print, and finally there’s the feeling of unexplainable happiness when someone says they read it and liked/loved it. The best response I love to hear is: I couldn’t put it down. The characters were all so real. I got carried away with it. Didn’t want to leave the world you’d created. Wow. That makes the sometimes low pay and grueling hard work all worthwhile. Because writing is hard work. The creating and promoting anyway. Hour and hour, day after day, year after year. It’s your life you’re using up. Precious time. You have to truly love it to give all that up…to strangers.


Emeraldfire's Bookmark: Is it still fun?

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: Fun? A strange way to put it. Sometimes, rarely, it’s fun. Mostly it’s hard work and lots of solitary time alone. Writers live so much of their life in their make believe worlds they get lonely. Lonely for the real world, real breathing people and adventures. I know I do. But the writing won’t leave me alone until I write down the words, tell the tale. The easiest way I can put it is when I’m writing or dealing with my writing I feel like I’m doing what I was born to do. Yes, I believe a writer is born to write – like an artist is born to paint and draw; a musician to write or play music. As an artist myself I know I’m not really happy, or fulfilled feeling, unless I’m writing, drawing or singing. Creating. Though the singing and the artwork have gone more by the wayside as I’ve become older…writing mostly takes all my free time now. Yes, writing does make me happy. Grin. Except the rare times someone hates one of my books…and that happens, too. I’ve finally learned that reading and loving a book or short story is subjective. Some people love my stories, get them, and others…don’t. And that’s okay. We’re all different people. That’s a lesson a writer must learn. One person’s criticism is not a blanket criticism of all your work or even that one work, it’s just one person’s opinion.

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: Is it lucrative? 

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: That’s a loaded question and (though I don’t know why) most writers will not talk about how much they make or a book makes. Maybe (this is just my theory) it’s because most of us make so little it embarrasses us. There’s no way we could ever live on it. It’s icing on the cake. Trim on the woodwork. The mid-level writers anyway. The top (very rare) writers like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and many other writers (especially some romance authors) make a very good living, but most writers don’t. Ever. Oh, in my heyday in the 1980’s and early 1990’s I made fairly good money with Leisure and Zebra paperbacks (and though at the time I didn’t think it was good, comparing it with now, well, it really was good) , because back then the distribution and print runs were so large. I got a smaller percent in royalties but there were more books out there selling for me. So far the e-books and PODs (Print on Demand) aren’t selling that well, but I get a much larger percentage. I’m hoping in the next year by having all my old 10 novels out again (rereleased between June 2010 and July 2012) and 2 new books I’ll see a gradual increase in income. It’s an experiment, sort of. Selling a small quantity each 3 months of 12 or more books might add up to a nice sum. Or so I’m hoping. I’m marketing (a whole new thing in the Internet world these days) a lot, seeking and getting great 4 and 5 star reviews, joining reader and writer loops, guest blogging, etc. It’s never ending. Thing is I don’t know how much it all helps. Eventually, I figure, I’ll find out. I’m an optimist always.

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: Do you still enjoy writing? 

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: Sure. I love it. It’s like breathing, eating, dreaming. It’s become part of me. Second nature. It took me 39 years to say: I’m a writer. And really feel like I wasn’t being a pretentious so-and-so or outright lying. Took me all that time and 14 published books, 7 short stories (and more to come hopefully) for me to feel deserving of the title. Even without the money telling stories is what makes me feel…complete. Happy. Hey, look at me I’m a storyteller! Ha, ha, now I just have to figure out a way to make it more profitable, as well. Working on that. As one successful writer recently said to me: Just get the books out there…nothing else matters. (Presumably good books, I’d add.) The rest will come. Gosh, I sure hope he’s right. Cause I’m been working soooo hard.

May you read well and often

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kathryn Meyer Griffith, Author of The Heart of the Rose Chats About Why She Wrote The Heart of the Rose and Evil Stalks the Night

Meet Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been writing for nearly forty years and has published 14 novels and 7 short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense and murder mystery genres… and all 12 of her old books above (and two new ones) are being brought out again between June 2010 and July 2012 from DAMNATION BOOKS www.damnationbooks.com and ETERNAL PRESS www.eternalpress.biz again in print – and all in e-books for the first time ever!


Synopsis from Goodreads: Bronwyn is kind and resourceful, a healer ahead of her time who cares for her aging father and two young sisters. She can entrance a man with her sweet voice, the beauty of her face. She’s an impoverished peasant who lives in the dark, suspicious times of fifteenth-century England where such a woman is feared. Witches are believed to be everywhere, waiting to ensnare a powerful man…like Edward the Fourth of England, who comes across her one day singing in a tavern and makes her his mistress.


Edward’s powerful adversary, The Earl of Warwick, seeks to take over the throne of England. Bronwyn is torn between the two; one she loves, the other she loathes. One cherishes her, the other wants to possess and control her. As battle lines form, and the country is torn apart by political upheaval and bloody carnage, the two sides wrestle for the crown. Who will she end up with? When she’s condemned to burn as a witch, which man will save her and which will let her die?

Coming to Amazon on 4 November 2010!

Synopsis from Goodreads: Twenty years ago psychic Sarah Summers fled from the evil that lurked in the woods behind her childhood home after it killed most of her family, but a nasty divorce and financial hardships forced her back when nothing else could. With her son, Jeremy, she returns to her grandmother’s dilapidated house and tries to begin a new life. She meets an eligible man, police detective, Ben, who falls for her, and she prays her fresh visions of bloodshed and death deep among the dark trees are not true. Then the murders begin again and Sarah is hurtled back into the same nightmare that has haunted her her whole life. The evil in the woods is awake again…and this time it wants her last remaining brother, her son…and her. With Ben’s and Jim’s help can she defeat it this time…and live?

Coming out in July 2012!

I would like to welcome Kathryn Meyer Griffith, author of The Heart of the Rose and Evil Stalks the Night to Emeraldfire's Bookmark. Ms Griffith was kind enough to write a guest post for me and here it is below in her own words:

Why I Wrote The Heart of the Rose
…and also Evil Stalks the Night

I started writing The Heart of the Rose after my only child, James, was born in late 1971. I was staying home with him, not working, and was bored out of my skin. I read a horrible historical romance one day and thought I can do better than that!

So I got out my old typewriter with the keys that stuck, my bottles of White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. I tentatively called the book King’s Witch because it was about a 15th century healer loved by Edward the Fourth who was falsely believed to be a witch. At the library (no computers or Internet back then) I did tedious research into that time in English history: the War of the Roses, the poverty and civil strife between the Red (Lancasters) and White Rose (Yorks); the Earl of Warwick and Edward the King. His brother Richard the Third. A real saga. Well, all that was big back then. I was way out of my league. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wrote. Reading that original version (a paperback released from Leisure books in 1985) now I have to laugh. It was pretty bad. All that archaic language I used (all the rage back in the 80’s). Yikes! But people, mainly women, loved it.

And so my writing career began. That was 40 years ago. It took me 12 years to get that first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, and having to get a real job. Life, as it always seems to do, got in the way. The manuscript was tossed into a drawer and forgotten for a while.

Then one day years later I found it in my bottom drawer and decided to rewrite it; try to sell it. I bundled up the revised pile of printed copy pages, tucked it into an empty copy paper box and took it to the Post Office. Plastered it with stamps. I sent it everywhere The Writer’s Market of that year said I could. And waited. Months and months and months. In those days it could take up to a year or more to sell a novel, in between revising and rewriting to please any editor that would make a suggestion or comment. Snail mail took forever, too, and was expensive.

In the meantime, I wrote another book. Kind of a fictionalized look back at my childhood in a large (6 brothers and sisters) poor but loving family in the 1950’s and 60’s. I started sending that one out, as well. Then one day an editor suggested that since my writing had such a spooky feel to it anyway, why didn’t I just turn the book into a horror novel. Like Steven King was doing. Ordinary people under supernatural circumstances. A book like that would really sell, she said. Hmmm. Well, it was worth a try, so I added something scary in the woods in the main character’s childhood past that she had to return to and face in her adult life, using some of my childhood as hers. I retitled it Evil Stalks the Night and started sending it out. That editor was right, it sold quickly.

But right before it was to go to editing, the publisher, Towers Publishing…went bankrupt and was bought out by another publisher! The book was lost somewhere in the stacks of unedited slush in a company undergoing massive changes as the new publisher took over. I had a contract and didn’t know how to break it. Heaven knows, I couldn’t afford a lawyer. My life with a husband and son was one step above poverty at times. Back then I was so na├»ve. That was 1983 and that take-over publisher was Leisure Books.

As often as has happened to me over my writing career, though, fate seemed to step in and the Tower’s editor that had bought my book, before she left, told one of Leisure’s editors about it and asked her to try to save it. She believed in it that much.

Out of the blue, in 1984, when I had completely given up on the book, Leisure Books sent me a letter offering to buy Evil Stalks the Night! Then, miracle of miracles, my new editor asked if I had any other ideas or books she could look at. I sent her The Heart of the Rose and Leisure Books promptly bought that one in 1985, as well; labeling it, and asking me to sex it up some, as an historical bodice-ripper (remember those…the sexy knockoffs of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s provocative novels?)! It wasn’t a lot of money for either. A thousand dollar advance and only 4% royalties on the paperbacks. But back in those days the publishers had a bigger distribution and thousands and thousands of the paperbacks were printed, warehoused and sent to bookstores. So 4% of all those books did add up.

So my career began. I sold ten more novels and various short stories over the next 25 years –as I was working full time and living my life. Some did well (my Zebra and leisure paperbacks) and some didn’t. Most of them, over the years, eventually went out of print.

And twenty-seven years later, when Kim Richards at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course) my 7 out-of-print Leisure and Zebra paperbacks, including The Heart of the Rose – and I said a resounding yes!

Of course, I had to totally rewrite The Heart of the Rose for the resurrected edition because my writing when I was twenty-one was immature, unpolished and had been done on an electric typewriter, with lots of White-Out and carbon paper (I couldn’t afford copies), using snail mail; all of which didn’t lend itself to much rewriting. Then also in those days, editors told an author what to change and the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it. I also totally rewrote the book because, as was the style in the 1980’s, the prose was written in that old-fashioned prose using thees and ayes. The dialect of 15th century England. There were sex scenes I had to tone down. It was awful. So I modernized the language, cut all the redundant adjectives and adverbs and helped the characters to grow up a little (they were so dramatic). The Heart of the Rose-Revised Author’s Edition published by Eternal Press in November 2010 (http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615722327 ), hopefully, then is a lot better book than it ever was in 1985. It should be…I have had thirty-nine more years of life and experiences to help make it a better book.

- Kathryn Meyer Griffith, author of The Heart of the Rose and Evil Stalks the Night
- Visit my websites at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019954486, or my Myspace page at  www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith 

May you read well and often

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kathryn Meyer Griffith - The Heart of the Rose

23. The Heart of the Rose by Kathryn Meyer Griffith (1985) (Revised Author's Edition 2010)
Length: 266 pages
Genre: Historical Romance
Started: 19 August 2011
Finished: 22 August 2011
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Kathryn who sent me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 7 November 2010
Why do I have it? I have enjoyed Kathryn Meyer Griffith's work since I read her book Witches back in high school.

Bronwyn is a lowly peasant girl forced to fend for herself and her sisters when her parents die. She finds work at a tavern as a barmaid and a singer. Her beautiful voice and kind nature soon attracts the attention of the nobility, just as her healing powers attract the gossiping whispers that she is a witch out to snare King Edward IV himself. Now, as England tears itself apart in civil war, Bronwyn finds herself trapped between two men - one intent on possessing her, no matter what the cost, and the other whom she has seen in her dreams.

But when she is set to burn as a witch, who will step forward to save her from the boiling hatred and intrigue. Will jealousy and greed claim her soul, or will her heart win in the end? I found this story very interesting and enjoyable. It was Ms. Griffith's first ever published and I have to say that except for some paranormal elements in the story, this is primarily an historical romance. I know and enjoy Ms. Griffith's horror books better, but as a first story, The Heart of the Rose by Kathryn Meyer Griffith is a very enjoyable read. I give it an A!

A! - (90-95%)


May you read well and often

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shirin Yim Bridges - Sorghaghtani of Mongolia

22. Sorghaghtani of Mongolia by Shirin Yim Bridges (2010)
The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses Book 3
Length: 24 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction
Started/Finished: 10 August 2011
Where did it come from? Many thanks to the lovely tour guides at Goose Bottom Books for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 May 2011
Why do I have it? I do enjoy true history geared toward children and Shirin Yim Bridges is a new author for me.

Sorghaghtani of Mongolia was married to one of Ghengis Khan's sons and ruled her husband's lands for her sons. She ruled in her own right after her husband's death. This book covers how to pronounce names, what Mongols ate, how they dressed and their lifestyles. I enjoyed this book very much and give it an A+!


A+! - (96-100%)


May you read well and often