Monday, November 24, 2014

Teacher to Storyteller

 Cathy Astolfo is an award winning novelist of the Emily Taylor mystery series and so much more. After a successful career in education Cathy turned her sights to storytelling. Get yourself comfy and find out what makes this author tick.

       Thanks Cathy for being our victim on Jamie Tremains blog. Can you tell us where you get the ideas for your stories?

A friend of a friend who read my first book assumed Id had some kind of trauma in my life. I told her it was being an elementary school teacher! Seriously, though, every single one of my books and stories have roots in reality. Something Ive read, seen, watched on television, heard aboutand I confess, theses events can be pretty horrific. Evil happens and I am intrigued! I think its a desire to understand how and why people perpetrate terrible actions on othersand control it. After all, in a crime story, the author can punish the bad guys and reward the good. Unlike reality, where sometimes there is no happy ending. Be carefulI might be using one of these conversations in a book

       You wear many hats as a wife, mother, grandmother and a large extended family.  Are you disciplined when it comes to carving out the time needed to create novels?

Cathy: No, Im terrible. I cant advise anyone on how to carve out the time, because I dont do it. I write a book every two years when I could easily do one a year, except I socialize a lot. I dont regret my choices, though. Family and friendships are very important to me.

       Whats the best writing advice youve ever received?

 To persevere. Never give up if you want to be a published author, if you want to share what you write. I would write no matter what, of course, but Ive always had an impulse to have others hear and read what I write. Its not easy to acquire an audience, however, especially in Canada. Many times I have almost given up and then I suddenly remember that advice.

       Which fictional character do you wish you had created?

Cathy: Atticus Finch. I fell in love with him many years ago when I read To Kill A Mockingbird for the first time. Hes flawed, real, yet a thoughtful, brave and loving man. I still adore him!

       Which fictional character do you wish you were?

Cathy: Tom Joad. I wouldve liked to be as brave and committed to making a difference as the character in The Grapes of Wrath. I have always been far too comfortable with my life, I think, to risk everything. He was forced by circumstances to either collapse or forge ahead and try to change the world. I have always admired him and wished I could be so courageous.
Oh boy, these are good questions! Do you realize Ive chosen two male characters? This might have to go into a novel some day.

       If youre like so many of us, you have a pile of next to be read books what are you reading at the moment, and what do you hope to read next?

Cathy: Right now I am reading Deryn Colliers second novel, Open Secret. I love Deryns writing, characters and plot twists. Next I will finish reading, Lethal Ladies. Ive read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, but not the other two. My sister-in-law gave me the collection because these are early female crime/mystery writers that she thought I would enjoy.

Would you ever consider collaborating? Could you?

Cathy:  I am currently collaborating on a movie script, so I would definitely consider doing that with a novel. Don't know if I could, though. Since I am not a scheduled person and write at erratic intervals. I would probably drive my writing partner nuts. Then again, maybe it would be good for me!


       Do you have a preference of writing either a novel, short story or being involved in an anthology?

Cathy: I honestly have no preference. I love the writing process, whether it leads me to a short piece or a longer one. I write anything! Poems, scripts, short stories, novels. This doesnt mean that everything I write turns out to be something anyone else would want to read, of course! I love the short story/poem for its challenge of choosing the perfect words, because you are forced by brevity to choose very wisely. I love the novel for its ability to really explore a character or describe a setting or follow a plot path that winds in surprising directions. Being involved in an anthology is so much fun because you have others to market alongside. (Did I mention that I dislike the marketing side of being an author? Being with writer friends helps a lot!) You pool your contacts and resources and its a wonderful experience.

You have just launched Sweet and Sensual with five other authors published by Imajin Books. Six romantic novels in one package. Tell us about this experience.

Cathy: My publisher at Imajin Books, Cheryl Tardif, is a master of marketing. I would follow her to the ends of the earth! I was a bit shy about having Sweet Karoline included in this bundle, since its not a classic romance the way some of the others in the anthology are. Its more in the Gone Girl style of romance! But as always, some of my best friends are included here, and that makes it fun. I met these wonderful women through writing and am eternally grateful that they are in my life, whether virtually or in person.

       What is next for Cathy Astolfo? After all your promotion gigs, book fairs, library readings etc, have you a work in progress or do you take some down time before starting your next project?

Cathy: As usual, I have several projects on the go. One is a script rewrite, which I hope to complete by the end of this month (November) alongside my nephew. Well give it to my daughter to promote. (Shes a co-owner/producer of Sisbro & Co. Inc., a film production company.) After that, I plan to complete my novella, Up Chit Creek, an adult cozy mystery. Then Im on to finish my young adult book, Saylor Hammett. See what I mean by erratic?

Thanks Cathy for sharing your writing life with us. Good luck with the movie script.

Catherine Astolfo retired in 2002 after a very successful 34 years in education. She can recall writing fantasy stories for her classmates in Grade Three, so she started finishing her books the day after her retirement became official. Her short stories and poems have been published in a number of Canadian literary presses. Her story, "What Kelly Did", won the prestigious Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Crime Story in 2012.
In the fall of 2011, she was thrilled to be awarded a four-book contract by Imajin Books for her Emily Taylor Mystery series (previously self-published), and has never been happier with this burgeoning second career.
Catherine's books are gritty, yet portray gorgeous surroundings; they deal with sensitive social issues, but always include love and hope. They're not thrillers, but rather literary mysteries with loads of character and setting. And justice always prevails. Her most recent novel from Imajin Books is Sweet Karoline, a psychological suspense. Sweet Karoline hit the top ten of Amazon Canada on its first day of release.

Selected bibliography
The Bridgeman: An Emily Taylor Mystery. Imajin Books, October, 2011
Victim: An Emily Taylor Mystery. Imajin Books, November, 2011
Legacy: An Emily Taylor Mystery. Imajin Books, April, 2012
Seventh Fire: An Emily Taylor Mystery. Imajin Books, July 2012
"What Kelly Did" NorthWord Literary Magazine, 2012
"Family Recipe"EFD1:Starship Goodwords. Carrick Publishing,2012
Sweet Karoline. Imajin Books. July, 2013
"The Three R's" Thirteen: An Anthology of Crime Stories, Carrick Publishing, 2013
Winner, Arthur Ellis Best Crime Short Story Award, 2012
Nominee, Zonta Club Women of Achievement, Brampton-Caledon, 2012
Winner, Derrick Murdoch Award, 2012
Winner, Bony Pete Short Story Award, First Prize, 2010
Winner, Bony Pete Short Story Award, Second Prize, 2009
Winner, Brampton Arts Acclaim Award, 2005
Winner, Dufferin-Peel Catholic Elementary Principal of the Year, 2002, the Catholic Principals Council of Ontario.
Winner, Elementary Dufferin-Peel OECTA Award for Outstanding Service, 1998

Talk soon,

Pam, Liz and Jamie

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A new use for an old item

Since I was born around the time of the ark, those of you under forty may not know what I am going on about. I’m talking about the iron and ironing board. Yes I know, many of you thought they'd been demolished years ago with the advent of permanent press fabric and no iron shirts etc.

I first learned to iron in home economics class when I was fourteen along with ‘How to make an omelette’ and ‘How to knit a pair of socks on four needles'.

When I first married I followed in my mother’s footsteps. She ironed everything. I stopped ironing the tea towels and underwear when our new dryer took out most of the creases. But I soldiered on and kept ironing even though I worked full time and raised three children.

I love linen clothes and the way to wear them is wrinkled. I just can’t do it. Nothing like a crisp shirt or blouse and my steamer works out the wrinkles in jackets or pants. Now before you say it…no, my husband does not iron. That is another blog! He does not want to take the pleasure of ironing away from me! I swear the steam keeps my complexion, well if not dewy its not dry. I’m sticking with that story.

So what has this to do with writing you ask?

My back has been bothering me for some time and I think it's because of all the sitting at the computer. My friend Vicki Delany writes from a standing position in her kitchen. She props up her laptop on a wall into the kitchen and voila. We all know how prolific Vicki is.

Soooo, the old grey cells were working as I thumped away at the ironing board enjoying the steam bath. I wanted to jot down some notes so I asked my grandson Riley to bring me my laptop to my permanent ironing station in the bedroom. I had an AHA! Moment
I hung up the crisp ironed shirt and moved the steaming instrument to the floor and set up my new office.

The board can be raised up and down to suit me and if I get tired I can sit. There is room for my coffee and a notebook. What more does a writer need? Now if I can only get my laptop to steam.

Its a good spot for plotting. Hmm , gives me an idea for a murder. Either the steam or the hot iron.

This is now the perfect height. And I can still watch the birds outside.

Check out the blog on Monday 24th. Read all about the indominable Cathy Astolfo chat about her writing life.

Talk soon,

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