About Kathleen

Short Bio
From the Allegheny Mountains where she grew up, to the Gloucester seaport where she writes, Kathleen Valentine loves nothing more than listening to the stories that people tell while sitting on front porches, gathered around kitchen tables, or swapped in coffee shops and taverns. Her collection of legends, folklore, and tall tales are woven into her fiction. The award-winning author of novels, novellas, & short story collections, as well as books of knitting patterns, & a cookbook/memoir about growing up Pennsylvania Dutch, Valentine has been listed as an Amazon Top Selling Author in Horror, Mystery/Suspense, Cooking, and Knitting. As a writer her primary interest is delving into the psychology of her characters. Her stories are sometimes mysterious, sometimes funny, usually romantic, and frequently frightening. Her characters range from lost children and grumpy old folks, to mysterious men and women who are not to be trifled with. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America's oldest seaport.


A Letter to My Readers
August 8, 2015

Dear Reader,

I always find it hard to talk about myself because I think the most interesting thing about me is the stuff I write. If you want to know who I am, read my work. But to give a little more context, I grew up in a Pennsylvania Dutch town in the Allegheny Highlands—now called The Pennsylvania Wilds—called St. Marys. My father was a carpenter and my mother was a the full-time mom of eight kids. Both of my parents were avid readers and always encouraged all of us to read. In fact, under the steps to the upstairs bedrooms was a large closet. My mother kept our sleeping bags and boxes of books—comic books, story books, novels, encyclopedias—in there. When one of us needed a “time-out” she would send us to the closet where we could curl up in the sleeping bags and read.

My favorite childhood memory was people telling stories everywhere we went. On Sunday afternoons my Grandmother Werner and two of her brothers would be sitting on her front porch with liverwurst, rye bread, and beer, and they would start telling stories. Everywhere we went—visiting aunts and uncles and cousins—people were always eating, drinking beer, and telling stories. Neighbors gathered in my mom's kitchen or my dad's shop and the stories would begin. I loved those times so much!

I attended Catholic elementary and high schools then went on to Penn State where I graduated with a degree in The Arts. While there I took a few courses in folklore and oral tradition. They were my favorite subjects. During my first two years of college I lived in Erie, Pennsylvania, and worked in a diner. It was that experience that inspired me to write The Old Mermaid's Tale many years later.

After college, I worked as a graphic artist and typographer in ad agencies as well as a couple energy companies and high tech companies from Houston, Texas to Camden, Maine, finally settling down in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1995 where I have lived ever since. In 2003 I started my own design business, creating web sites, advertising, and promotional material for clients. I also began to write and, when the digital book revolution arrived I was ready. Two of my short works, The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic, and Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter, were highly successful, climbing to the top of Amazon's charts in 2011. This encouraged me to keep writing and, though the competition is far more fierce than it was back then, I keep writing.

So far, I have published three stand-alone novels, and a variety of shorter works. My special loves are my Marienstadt stories which are based on my home town and all those stories I collected on all those porches and kitchens and living rooms as a girl. I am a lover of stories and a teller of tales. That is who I am and will always be.

Thanks for reading,

Kathleen 



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Interviews and blog posts from other sources:


Building Creative Writing Ideas Guest Blog:

August 22, 2011

Crafting Your Opening:
"I want to fall in love..."
by Kathleen Valentine

     The great American editor and publisher Sol Stein was once asked what he looked for when he began reading a new manuscript. He responded, “I want to fall in love.” The editor of such greats as Elia Kazan, James Baldwin, Dylan Thomas and Jack Higgins, Stein knew a thing or two about what would make a novel successful. He went on to say that if he did not love a character, a situation, or a premise within the fist few pages of a manuscript he would pass it on to someone else to consider. This is a wise thing for writers to remember.     Today more than ever most readers lead busy lives and for many of them finding time to sink into a work of fiction is a luxury. Now, in the infancy of electronic self-publishing, competition for readers is intense. Creating an opening to our work that will engage the reader's interest and tantalize the imagination takes not only a devotion to craft but a willingness to engage with one's readers as never before. As a writer I believe that it is my responsibility to 1.) create an intriguing character, 2.) give that character a purpose that readers can resonate with, and 3.) invite my readers into a world they can be intrigued by, where they can spend time with a character or characters they care about.
     It has been said that all great books are about the same thing – desire. The desire to get the girl, find out whodunnit, kill that white whale, find justice or love or purpose, win the war, or vanquish Voldemort. It doesn't always matter what the desire is but if the character who desires it is not suffused with yearning in a manner the reader can understand and relate to, they are probably not going to stick around for ±100k words. The sooner the author can seduce the reader into caring about a character and a character's quest, the more likely the reader is to keep reading.
     My novel The Old Mermaid's Tale begins with this line, In 1960 my hero was a sixteen-year old chess player named Bobby Fischer, not a sports figure of high regard in the coffee shops and bar rooms of Plainview, Ohio.” It is a pretty good opening line because it immediately tells us a few things – the narrator is young, she has aspirations beyond life in the town in which she lives, and it is 1960. That line also got my book a mention on the New York Times' web site the day Bobby Fischer died. A nice bonus. But as I was working on the opening chapter in which we meet Clair, a farm-girl determined to escape Ohio by going to college in a town bordering Lake Erie, I decided I wanted a hint of what was to come. Something dark and mysterious, something that mesmerizes and hints at what is waiting for her. So I added a page and a half prologue that begins:
     "I saw her. At first it was the penumbra of red light surrounding the wine dark hair. My world had few beauties in it. Yes, there were the sunrises and sunsets, the moonlight trails across tropical waves, the sparkle of stars in Arctic seas. And women, too. Women had craved me but how can any man unravel the complexities of women’s cravings? I have laid them down and enjoyed it.”
These words are spoken by a character who doesn't show up until halfway through the book but, I hoped, it would provide enough intrigue to keep readers reading.
Each Angel Burns presented a different challenge. Unlike The Old Mermaid's Tale, which is told in the first person except for the prologue,Each Angel Burns is told in third person and it has a larger cast of characters. This is the first paragraph:

Every Thursday night the Wild Bunch met at The Arm Pit for the special and beers. Back in high school they had called themselves the Wild Bunch, now, thirty-some years later, Charlie Pikawski said they ought to be the Mild Bunch. The “bunch” had diminished, too. These days they were lucky to get six of them together. When Pete Black had time to drive from Boston he’d show up but Father Pete had just celebrated his silver anniversary as a Jesuit priest so his wildness was more of the mystical sort. In high school there were over a dozen of them but time took its toll. Tom Hoffman wrapped his GTO around a telephone pole before his twenty-first birthday. Rocco Scutelli hadn’t made it back from Vietnam. Ronnie Mayer succumbed to lung cancer a few years back.
     My intention was that readers would care about a bunch of guys who had been there for one another for over thirty years – both through the fun of hanging out together with beer and good food and through the tragedies of loss that are one of life's constants. Did I succeed? Only a reader can tell me that.Writing a book that anyone would want to read is a lot like making love. For it to be good it has to be a pleasurable experience for both the writer and the reader. It is my belief that if a writer isn't in love with his/her story, nobody else will be either. We seduce our readers with the passion of our words, we invite them in and say, “Take off your shoes, get comfortable, and stay awhile. I want to tell you a story. I want to make you fall in love.”
     The Old Mermaid's Tale and Each Angel Burns, available from Amazon in paper or Kindle), two collections of short stories, a cookbook/memoir of growing up Pennsylvania Dutch, and a book on knitting lace shawls. She recently published a psychological horror novelette, The Crazy Old Lady In The Attic, for Kindle. Her web site is KathleenValentine.com and her blog is Parlez-Moi Blog.


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From Kelvin's World

A special post featuring the author of Each Angel Burns, Kathleen Valentine

Title: Each Angel Burns
Author: Kathleen Valentine
Genre: Contemporary Adult

Blurb: “The story of a tormented priest and an abused wife, along with a cast of believable and capitivating characters. Throw in a mysterious old abbey with a storied past, a string of murders, and a globe-trotting villain and you have an engaging and entertaining read...This is one of the best independent novels I have read. Highly recommended.” - Barry Yelton, Scarecrow in Gray

Links to buy book: EachAngelBurns.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Each-Angel-Burns-Kathleen-Valentine/dp/0978594037
Barnes & Noble:http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Each-Angel-Burns/Kathleen-Valentine/e/9780978594039/

Any giveaway? If so, please give details: 
I'll give a Smashwords coupon to the first three people who comment on your blog and ask for it.


Questions:


What inspired you to become a writer?
I don't think I ever even thought about it, I just started writing. I grew up with two parents who were avid readers an from the time I was little I thouht books were the most magical things in the world. Writing was just a normal progression from reading.

Why should people read your book?
I think it is a beautiful story about three people at a place in their lives where they are questioning all the sacrifices made to be good people. Gabe has devoted his life to being a good husband and father. Maggie has been a good wife, Peter has been a good priest. Now the circumstances in their lives are changing and they suddenly begin to wonder if their sacrifices have been worth it – and whether they want to live with them for the rest of their lives. It is something I think a lot of people can relate to.

Can you relate to any of the characters and why? 
Of course. In some ways I can relate to all three of the main characters. I especially relate to Maggie. Creating her was difficult at times because, like her, I've made some unconventional choices in how to live my life and now, past fifty, I wonder if I would do the same things again.

Tell your readers something personal about you? 
Personal? Goodness, that's leading. Well, I am something of a hermit. I live on an island along the coast of Massachusetts and almost never leave it. In my younger years I moved around a lot but now I love leading a quiet, simple life where I can devote most of my time to designing (I'm a graphic designer) and writing.

How can one contact you?

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From Penelope Fletcher's Fierce Fiction Blog:

Author Interview with Kathleen Valentine

It's time to swoon! Romance. *lusty sigh* I have a great guest for you today. Here is my interview with Kathleen Valentine author ofEach Angel Burns;

Hello Kathleen, can you tell me a little about yourself?
I grew up in central Pennsylvania and both of my parents were avid readers. From the time I was a kid I thought writing books had to be the most important thing that anyone could do just because my parents were such book lovers. I graduated from Penn State with a degree in art and spent most of my working life as a graphic artist. I did a lot of commercial writing but it wasn't until about 10 years ago that I started writing fiction. Most of my career I worked in the advertising and marketing departments of large corporations but in 2002 my brother died and I realized that I wasn't going to live forever. I left my job in an engineering firm and started a small graphic design business -- and I started writing. It's been a very good way of life for me, not as lucrative as the corporate world but much happier.

What are your thoughts on the saying, 'A picture is worth a thousand words'? As a writer do you agree with this?
That's an interesting question and, of course, it is true. But what you have to remember is that with a picture those thousand words will describe what is going on in the imagination of the viewer. In writing, those thousand words belong to you. Actually, it would be rather an interesting exercise to write a thousand words describing a picture and then ask an artist to paint what your words evoked. It would be fascinating to compare what they paint to the painting that you described, wouldn't it?


If you could collaborate with another author, who would you choose and why?
I don't think I would. As part of my design business I work with a variety of authors and most writers have such a unique vision that it is hard to merge one's own vision with theirs. Even designing books for writers can be difficult if you can't let go of your own preferences and go with what the author wants. Some years back I worked with a man who was a commercial fisherman and lobsterman on a book he was writing about his life at sea. It was a big challenge because he was very attached to the book and I realized that, if the project was going to succeed, I had to take a back seat and only put my work in where he allowed it. I'm not sure I'd ever do that again.


What method of book promotion has worked best for you as an Indie?
Being very active on the internet, especially with my blog. I also use social media and discussion groups.

You have four eBooks out, with very positive reviews. I find this impressive, a strong backlist is key to being a successful Indie. Can you give us an overview of how your most recent release is going, and its storyline?
I have quite a bit of variety in my books. My two knitting books have been very successful, my cookbook/memoir has done okay but I tend not to promote my non-fiction. In fiction I have two novels and two collections of short stories.

My most recent novel is titled "Each Angel Burns". It is a story about three people, now entering their fifties who have come to big turning points in their lives. Gabe is a woodworker who is married with three grown daughters. Now that his kids are on their own he realizes that he and his wife have nothing in common. Peter is his best friend from childhood and is a Catholic priest. He is a brilliant, learned and devout man but back in college he fell in love with a woman he wanted to marry. She rejected him and he stayed in the seminary but now, thirty years later, she shows back up. Her name is Maggie and she is a sculptor and is trying to divorce her wealthy but abusive husband. She has purchased an abandoned convent on the Maine coast intending to turn it into a sculpture studio. For over a century there have been strange stories about mysterious goings-on there. Because of Peter she hires Gabe to help renovate the convent but very strange things are going on -- a very valuable statue of the archangel Gabriel disappears, her husband refuses to answer her calls and emails, and the bodies of murdered young women are washing up on the shores.... I hope that sounds interesting.

If I had to sum up your book covers in a word I would use 'graceful'. How did you come up with the designs?
Thank you. I love my book covers, too. As an artist I was always interested in collage and as a writer I realized that a good novel is like creating a collage. You pull together a bunch of seemingly disparate concepts (or images) and blend them artfully to create something new. My book covers are visual collages of the elements of the story inside.

Do you still nurture a hope to become traditionally published?
No, I don't think I would go that route at this stage. I had a few nibbles for The Old Mermaid's Tale but if I had gone with them I don't think it would still be in print. As an indie it can stay in print as long as I want it to.

Are there any new books you have coming out we should be on the lookout for?
I have three new books in various stages. Two of them are knitting books. One called "Knit Your Tail Off" is a collection of small lace projects. I hope to have it out by this fall. The second one is called Seaman's Scarves, Siren's Shawls and Stories. It is a collection of his'n'her coordinated shawls and scarves with a maritime theme. That's going to take more time. But my favorite project right now is my new novel, "Depraved Heart" which is about a former NFL football star who was convicted of the depraved indifference murder of his brother-in-law and served fifteen years in prison. He is now out on parole and is being reunited with his daughter who is the heir to a fabulous art collection. It is coming along quite nicely.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.


From Stephen Drennon's Adventures in Writing:


“The Old Mermaid’s Tale” by Kathleen Valentine

A short while ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathleen Valentine on my site. Now she is back to share her latest book with us: “The Old Mermaid’s Tale“, a story about redemption and the importance of stories in our lives.
Kathleen is the author of a collection of short stories, “My Last Romance and other passions”, and two novels, “The Old Mermaid’s Tale” and “Each Angel Burns”. She has also written “Fry Bacon, Add Onions: The Valentine Family & Friends Cookbook – five generations of good eating”, a memoir/cookbook of memories and 400 recipes from a Pennsylvania Dutch childhood, and “The Mermaid Shawl & other Beauties: Shawls, Cocoons and Wraps”, a collection of her own lace knitting designs. Some of her short stories are available in e-format from HeartThrobBooks.com and additional knitting patterns from KnitYourTailOff.com. She currently lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America’s oldest seaport, and is writing another novel, “Depraved Heart” and another knitting book, “Siren Shawls, Seaman’s Scarves and Stories”.
© 2011, Steven R. Drennon. All rights reserved.

From Christopher Bunn's Scribbles and Tunes.

Kathleen Valentine

Kathleen Valentine is visiting the blog today, all the way from across the continent in Massachusetts. Did you know, in the ye olden days, it would take around seven months traveling by wagon to get from Boston to California? Of course, you also stood a good chance of dying en route. Please keep that in mind, the next time any of you are stuck on the 405 during rush hour in Los Angeles. Anyway, the show must go on, even if the freeway won’t. Without further ado, here’s Kathleen…
Hi, Kathleen. Thanks for stopping by. Before we get into writing and books, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in a small Pennsylvania Dutch community in north central Pennsylvania and one of the things I realize now is that the people there were great storytellers. Ever since I was little I can remember people sitting around — on porches, or at picnics (my family loved picnics), or just sitting around the kitchen table — and they would always be telling stories. Most of my great aunts and uncles were first generation Americans and they brought the Old World tradition of telling stories with them. I can remember parties when I was little when there would be a hundred people there and every room that you went in to was full of people sitting around, drinking beer and telling stories. I loved listening to those stories so I guess it is natural that eventually I would become a storyteller, too.
I went to Penn State and graduated with a degree in The Arts. Most of my life I’ve been a graphic artist but I’ve had a lot of jobs from tending-bar to driving a limo and from being a belly dancer to being a therapist. I currently live in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
That’s quite a rich and varied background. It sounds like you’ve been listening to stories all your life, not just when you were a child, but with your jobs as well. I imagine bartenders and therapists hear a lot of tales. I don’t have much knowledge about belly dancing, but I suppose they hear a few stories too. I can see how that background would motivate you to start writing your own.
Well, as I said, I think it is sort of in my genes. Also, I’ve always been a daydreamer and I suppose that just naturally evolves into writing those things down. When I was a kid in school the nuns always encouraged me to write, too. I remember one time we had to write a story and then read it to the class. I wrote a story about a dodo bird (I have no idea where I got that idea) and while I was reading it I became aware that Sister Carmelita was chuckling at it. She had a reputation for being very strict and humorless so I thought if I could make her laugh I must be doing something right.
I doubt there’s a much tougher audience out there than nuns. If you can make them laugh, then you’re definitely ready for the Tonight Show. So, having started with dodo birds (a very respectable starting point, in my learned estimation), where have you ended up with your stories?
My short stories tend to fall into one of two categories — crime or romantic tales (though not what you would call “romance”). I have two published novels and am working on a third. All of them are what I would call Adult Contemporary. My readers tend to range in age from late teens to senior citizens and I’m delighted to say that a lot of men seem to like my books.
My first novel, The Old Mermaid’s Tale is something of a coming-of-age tale set against the background of Great Lakes maritime lore. It is set in the early 1960s right after the St. Lawrence Seaway opened to international commerce and suddenly the small, seaport towns surrounding the Great Lakes were overwhelmed with sailors from all over the world. It created quite a bit of culture shock and made a wonderful background for a romantic tale of a young woman’s search for love.
My second novel, Each Angel Burns, is contemporary about three people entering their fifties and facing big changes in their lives. There is an element of romance and an element of mystery, too.
I can see how men would be interested in a story such asThe Old Mermaid’s Tale. Weaving in history and maritime details makes it much more than a stereotypical romance. I shudder in fear when I see a traditional romance, but your book sounds intriguing. Do you have anything that’s currently in the works?
I’m on the second draft of a novel currently titled Depraved Heart. It is a contemporary story about a man who was once a quite famous and admired pro-football player who married an equally famous ballerina. Three years into their marriage he was convicted of the “depraved indifference” murder of her twin brother. When the tale opens, he has just been released from prison and is about to be united with his 15-year-old daughter who is the heiress of her great-grandfather’s estate which includes a fabulous art collection. That’s all I’ll tell you for now.
That’s a great setup! You’ve hooked me. Speaking of interesting stories, are there somebooks that had a great deal of influence on you as a writer or as a person?
Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, because it is a beautifully written book and tells the story of a truly noble man who was willing to risk everything he had to do the right thing. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read, no matter how often I read it. Hemingway’s A Moveable FeastI learned so much from this book! It is amazing to me that a writer could create such an incredible world, one you feel you could step right in to, with such an economy of language. It’s another one I read over and over. Ron Hansen’s Mariette in Ecstasy because the language is absolutely breathtaking. I remember the first time I read it I’d read the same chapters two or three times before moving on to the next one because it was just so exquisite.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read, read, read, read. And then learn your craft. I’m very critical of sloppy writing no matter how interesting the story might be. If you don’t take pride in your craft, do something else.
How right you are. An interesting story easily stumbles and dies due to sloppy writing. This is arguably the primary weakness of the indie world these days. I’ve always thought that art needs to go hand-in-hand with excellence. In other words, inspiration should not solely serve to inspire the creativity itself, but also the diligent execution of that creativity. I better stop there, or I’ll start sounding like I’m on a soapbox in Hyde Park. Speaking of inspiration, where do you find your inspiration?
Probably the thing that interests me most is good people caught in impossible situations. That seems to be the dynamic that inspires most of my writing. I’m fascinated by people who are basically good, decent, honorable people who suddenly find themselves, often through no fault of their own, in absolutely impossible circumstances. Whenever a tale of that sort starts stirring in my brain I know sooner or later I’ll have to write about it.
Is there anything specific you’d like to achieve with your writing?
I just want to keep writing — it would be nice to have readers but I suspect even if I didn’t I’d want to keep writing. I think being a novelist is the highest calling of all the arts. Novelists, alone among artists, have changed the world. I heard a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe he said, “So you’re the little lady who started this great big war.” Her novel changed this country — like Dickens’ Tale of Two Citiesand Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. That is heady company — something to aspire to be worthy of.
You’re right. Once we pick up the pen, we have entered a heady company indeed. A great cloud of witnesses. I can imagine Dickens strolling about the world, a wispy ghost, taking a peek at people’s Kindles and reading the Amazon bestseller list. He and Mr. Hugo left us quite an act to follow. Anyway, thanks, Kathleen, for taking the time to visit and chat. We wish you the best of luck with your writing!
Kathleen keeps an author website at KathleenValentine.com, as well as a blog called Parlez Moi. You can purchase The Old Mermaid’s Tale and Each Angel Burns on Amazon.

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From Steven R. Drennon's "Adventures In Writing:
Interview with Kathleen Valentine
My latest author to interview is Kathleen Valentine. Kathleen is the author of “The Old Mermaid’s Tale“, which we will be featuring here in the near future. Kathleen is such a good sport, because I send each author a list of about twenty or so questions and ask them to answer 7-10. Kathleen went above and beyond and chose to answer pretty much all of them! Thank you for sharing, Kathleen, and it’s such a pleasure to have you!
Where do you generally prefer to go when you write?
I write in my office which is in the back of my house overlooking an 18th century cemetery.
How long have you been writing?
Since high school really.
What is the last book you read?
Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
How many books, and in which genre, have you written?
Two novel of contemporary adult fiction, 2 collections of short stories, 2 books on knitting, and a cookbook/memoir
What inspired you to become a writer?
I grew up in a house full of books and always considered writers to be gods.
Who is your favorite author?
Ernest Hemingway
Tell us three random things about yourself.
I graduated from Penn State, I used to work at Enron, and I am an avid knitter.
Do you prefer to write on a laptop or a desktop computer?
Laptop
What do you most enjoy about writing?
I love moral dilemmas. I always find myself most intrigued by people who are basically good but who are trapped in impossible situations – that is the background for all of my novels.
What steps do you take in starting a new book?
I read a lot, I have to read about 100 books for every book I write. I also write extensive character sketches and pages and pages of just random ramblings about the story I have in mind.
What is the best writing advice you ever received?
Someone once told me that the most interesting characters are the ones with a secret. This has definitely proven to be true for me in my work.
What are you currently working on writing?
I am currently finishing the first draft of a novel titled Depraved Heart. The story is about a man who was once a superstar NFL linebacker who married a famous ballerina who was the granddaughter of a fabulously wealthy art collector. Three years into the marriage the football player is arrested and convicted of the depraved indifference murder of his wife’s twin brother and sentenced to 25 years in prison. When the story opens he has just been paroled after 15 years and is returning to the estate his wife’s grandfather left to their daughter. His wife died shortly after the girl’s birth and he is now the executor of this huge estate and is about to be united with the daughter he has only known through letters and rare visits. Everyone is horrified that the grandfather would appoint the man who killed his grandson the executor of this estate and they want to know why this has happened.
What advice would you give a new writer? 
First tell your story. Then edit and polish and edit and polish and edit and polish until your manuscript is as tight and as clean as it can be.
How many drafts do you usually have before deciding it’s done?
A lot! Five or six minimum. I’m very particular about word usage and character development.
What issues or challenges do you struggle with the most?
Timing. In order for a story to be interesting you have to be very conscientious about how information is revealed. I want to give enough information to tantalize but withhold enough to keep the reader turning the pages.
© 2011, Steven R. Drennon. All rights reserved.





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From Jennifer Hudock's The Inner Bean:

Guest Blog: Kathleen Valentine–What I’ve Learned from Reviews

Let’s welcome Kathleen Valentine back to The Inner Bean!

What I’ve Learned from Reviews

Reviews are tricky things. All authors love the good ones, the ones that tell you how wonderful your book is and how much people loved it. But it is the less glowing ones, and even the bad ones, that have the most to teach us. Now that I have six books out there in the wild world of literature – or at least books – I’ve learned a few things that might be useful to both authors and readers, especially readers who plan to write a review:

  1. Not everyone will love your book. I know, this comes as a shock. Sad to say no matter how many people tell you how great your book is there are those who just won’t like it and there is nothing you can do about this. Nor, really, should you. As a writer it is your job to write the best story you can possibly write but remember that we all have our unique sets of experiences and what speaks to one person will not speak to another. I’ve gotten reviews that said things like “it just never grabbed me” and “it was okay but I wouldn’t read it again” or “it never lived up to it’s hype”. Don’t worry about reviews like that – all they are saying is “this isn’t my kind of book”. Who knows why the reader decided to read it but they did and they reviewed it and you are stuck with their ambivalence.
  2. If more than one person complains about the same thing, pay attention. If you get a negative review from someone who says they hated one thing or another, try not to take it personally but if more than one person mentions the same thing it is time to give that some consideration. For example: my novelEach Angel Burns is the story of three people in their fifties but much of the story is told through flashbacks and memories. I, personally, love stories written in this manner and I loved writing a story that way. But I found it instructive that a few people had a hard time telling when a flashback was happening. Enough readers have assured me they had no problem with the flashbacks to convince me it is okay but, as I work on my current novel, Depraved Heart, I am being very careful to make sure flashbacks and memories are well identified.
  3. People who love a certain genre have expectations of that genre. I market my fiction as contemporary adult fiction but, for a variety of reasons, my books have been listed as romances on some sites andEach Angel Burns has been listed as a mystery. Most of my fiction has strong romantic themes and sensual, non-erotic love scenes but they are not romances in the current expectation of genre-romance. Genre-romance readers expect the principle characters to be fairly young, under 30 for the female and under 35 for the male. And genre-romance readers demand an HEA ending (Happily Ever After). My books don’t promise that. My novel The Old Mermaid’s Tale offers several romantic situations, not all of which end happily. Consequently I have received reviews stating that a story was depressing (no HEA) or that it “wasn’t much of a mystery” (it wasn’t supposed to be.) When you get a review like this check other reviews that reader has posted and, if they are for genre-type books very different from your work, take that into consideration.

Writers have a love/hate relationship with reviews because we all want people to love our babies but, of course, they often don’t. I wrote a combination memoir/cookbook about growing up in a Pennsylvania Dutch family, Fry Bacon. Add Onions, that is filled with reminiscences and also recipes. Many readers have loved it but some of the negative reviews were quite interesting. One reader complained that the stories in it were “too personal”. Why would you buy a book marketed as a “memoir” if you didn’t want to read personal things? The mystery of why a reader buys a book continues. I wrote a book on knitting lace, The Mermaid Shawl & other Beauties, that is designed to teach knitters how to customize each design to their own preferences but some reviewers complain that the instructions aren’t specific enough. Another complained that some of the models in the book are too old. Things like this are not the author’s problem.
As a writer I’ve learned to pay attention to poor reviews but not to take them personally. It is lovely to get good reviews but you can learn a lot from bad reviews and that can improve both your writing and your marketing for the future.
Links to all my books can be found at:
My Web Site: KathleenValentine.com
My Blog: Parlez-Moi Blog
Twitter: @Kathleen01930
Facebook: Kathleen Valentine


Author interview: Kathleen Valentine



Each Angel Burns, by Kathleen Valentine, is on top of the pile of books I intent to read next. I have not been able to read as much as I normally do lately, as I am based in Western China for a few weeks, and have hardly got any time to breathe. On top of my normal “duties”, I have taken on a volunteer role in a school for the deaf and teach English to deaf Chinese children. Quite a challenge, but I will write a post about this soon. In this article, Kathleen Valentine, who has published several books in the literary romance category, tells us a little more about Each Angel Burns.
Jerome: What can you tell us about Each Angel Burns?
Kathleen: Each Angel Burns is a contemporary novel about three people entering their fifties and facing big changes – things they never thought they would have to face at this point in their lives. Gabe has spent his life as a hard-working, devoted husband and father who has always done the right things for his family, his cantankerous old father, and his brother. Peter is Gabe’s best friend from childhood. He is a priest and a teacher and has always taken pride in being a devout priest and a good, supportive friend. Maggie is the woman Peter was once in love with. He wanted to leave the seminary for her but she broke off with him to marry a wealthy man who could give her everything Peter couldn’t, or so he thought. Now all of them are older and things are changing. Gabe’s kids are grown and on their own and he realises that he and his wife have nothing in common any more. Maggie has left her abusive husband and has purchased an abandoned convent that she intends to turn into a sculpture studio. When she encounters Peter again after all these years she realises she never stopped loving him and he finds out that she didn’t leave him for the reasons he thought she did.
Many mysteries surround the convent that Maggie now lives in and which Peter persuades Gabe to help her renovate. In the past there were wild stories about an angel with a flaming spear that protected the nuns there. More recently the bodies of young women have been discovered washed up near its shores. Strange things start happening to the people there now, too. Gabe discovers his wife is cheating on him. Maggie’s husband won’t respond to her calls and attempts to start divorce proceedings. Peter faces feeling he never thought himself capable of as he witnesses Gabe and Maggie beginning to fall in love.
This is a story about sacrifice and how sometimes, those things we did with the very best of intentions and for good reasons, can have consequences we never imagined. It is a story about life-long friendship, faith, and great goodness forced to deal with great evil.
Jerome: Who are your readers?
Kathleen: Most of my reader for this book have been older adults – 40+ seems to be the norm – but men and women seem equally attracted to the story. My first novel, The Old Mermaid’s Tale, seems to have a lot more younger readers.
Jerome: What was your journey as a writer?
Kathleen: I grew up in a small Pennsylvania Dutch community in north centralPennsylvania and one of the things I realize now is that the people there were great story-tellers. Ever since I was little I can remember people sitting around — on porches, or at picnics (my family loved picnics), or just sitting around the kitchen table — and they would always be telling stories. Most of my great aunts and uncles were first generation Americans and they brought the Old World tradition of telling stories with them. I can remember parties when I was little when there would be a hundred people there and every room that you went in to was full of people sitting around, drinking beer and telling stories. I loved listening to those stories so I guess it is natural that eventually I would become a story-teller, too.
Jerome: Do you follow a specific writing process?
Kathleen: When I am first beginning a novel I tend to write a lot by hand, also draw maps, floorplans, character connection charts, etc. I also write a lot of “vignettes” trying to capture the essence of the main characters. Very little of this is ever used in the actual books but it gives me a sense of who my characters are and what they are like before I actually start writing.
Jerome: Where do you find inspiration?
Kathleen: Probably the thing that interests me most is good people caught in impossible situations. That seems to be the dynamic that inspires most of my writing. I’m fascinated by people who are basically good, decent, honorable people who suddenly find themselves, often through no fault of their own, in absolutely impossible circumstance. Whenever a tale of that sort starts stirring in my brain I know sooner or later I’ll have to write about it.
Jerome: Who are your favourite authors?
Kathleen: I have a lot of them: Hemingway, A.S. Byatt, Orhan Pamuk, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Isabel Allende, James Lee Burke, Valerie Martin.
Jerome: Is there a book you wish you had written? Which one?
Kathleen: Well, I wish I could have written Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast because it is a gorgeously crafted book but also I cannot imagine what it must have been like to know those people and to have lived through that time. I’ve read the book quite a few times and every time I do I have a sense that maybe I was at the next table or hiding in a corner of Miss Stein’s apartment.
Jerome: Do you have any tips for budding writers?
Kathleen: Read, read, read, read. And then learn your craft. I’m very critical of sloppy writing no matter how interesting the story might be. If you don’t take pride in your craft, do something else.
Jerome: What are you working on at the moment?
Kathleen: I’m on the second draft of a novel currently titled Depraved Heart. It is a contemporary story about a man who was once a quite famous and admired pro-football player who married an equally famous ballerina. Three years in to their marriage he was convicted of the “depraved indifference” murder of her twin brother. When the tale opens, he has just been released from prison and is about to be united with his 15-year-old daughter who is the heiress of her great-grandfather’s estate which includes a fabulous art collection. That’s all I’ll tell you for now.
You can follow Kathleen on the Net @:


Kathleen Valentine - Indie Author
IndieReads: When did you start writing?
Kathleen Valentine: I’ve been writing most of my life. I was the editor of my campus literary magazine in college and have been writing ever since.
IR: Are you self published or did you have some one do it for you?
KV: Some years back I started a small publishing company to publish the work of other people, called Parle-Moi Press. Eventually, I published my own books through that business.
IR: What genre do you write in the most?
KV: I write General Fiction as well as non-fiction. I also write some mystery short stories but not a lot.
IR: What is about that genre that attracts you?
KV: I want my fiction to be creative. My experience is that most genre fiction is too limited by rules of what is acceptable for that genre. I don’t want to write that way.
IR: How many books have you published?
KV: Two novels, two collections of short stories, a book on knitting lace, and a cookbook/memoir.
IR: Which one should people start with?
KV: Well, I’d say The Old Mermaid’s Tale, but it depends on what you are drawn to.
IR: What was the prime motivation in publishing your work through independent channels?
KV: I spent three years working with agents who never accomplished much that was useful. I finally thought I’d rahter publish on my own and, as my sales are growing, I’m very glad that I did.
IR: What were your early experiences like?
KV: I had very good mentors early in the process so things have gone pretty well. I don’t sell as much as most genre writers do but I’m thrilled every time a book sells.
IR: What did the process teach you?
KV: That there are no limits to what you can accomplish if you just keep at what you are doing. Slow and steady wins the race.
IR: Have you seen a change in the independent publishing community?
KV: Oh, yes, HUGE! Just within the last six years indie publishing is really starting to make its mark and people are starting to realize that there is a lot of great indie work out there. It is exciting.
IR: Do you read other independently published authors works?
KV: Yes, I’ve found that there are some very good indie writers. There are a lot of bad ones, too, but the good ones are getting easier to find.
IR: Any favorites you would like to plug?
KV: I loved Ryne Douglas Pearson‘s latest book, Confession. Maureen Gill’s January Moon is another excellent book.
IR: Where are you most likely to purchase indie works?
IR: Where can people find your books and which source has been the must successful for you?
KV: Amazon is my best resource for selling. My author’s page there is: Kathleen Valentine’s Amazon page. I also have all my books on my site at KathleenValentine.com
IR: Do you have books in print? Where can we find them? What was that experience like?
KV: Five of my seven books are also in paperback. You can find them at Amazon, B&N, and all other online booksellers.
IR: Do you have any advice for some one who would like to be an Indie author or publisher?
KV: Make sure your work is first quality before your go to press. The biggest obstacle to selling indie books is convincing potential readers that they are getting a quality product. Authors who publish unedited, unproofed work should be spanked! If we want to be taken seriously as professionals we have to present a professional product.
IR: Do you do your own cover art or do you have some one do it for you?
KV: Professionally I’ve been a graphic artist for over 30 years so producing my own cover art is my favorite part of my job.
IR: Do you have any new works coming out soon that you can tell us about?
KV: Yes, I’m working on a new novel Depraved Heart which is a non-genre romantic-mystery about a man who was once a well-known professional football player. At the peak of his career he was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison for the depraved-indifference murder of his brother-in-law. Fifteen years later he is being released from prison and will be re-united with his teenage daughter who has inherited her great-grandfather’s multi-million dollar estate which includes a fabulous art collection. That’s all I’ll tell you for now.
IR: Is there anything you would like to share?
KV: I think being a novelist is the highest calling of all the arts. Novelists, alone among artists, have changed the world. I heard a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe he said, “So you’re the little lady who started this great big war.” Her novel changed this country — like Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. That is heady company — something to aspire to be worthy of.
My books are available both in paperback and e-format from Amazon and in paperback from all other online booksellers. Just go to my web site of my blog for the links. My web site is www.KathleenValentine.com and my blog is www.ParlezMoiBlog.blogspot.com.
More Info:
Kathleen Valentine is the author of a collection of short stories “My Last Romance and other passions” and two novels, “The Old Mermaid’s Tale” and “Each Angel Burns”. She has also written “Fry Bacon, Add Onions: The Valentine Family & Friends Cookbook – five generations of good eating”, a memoir/cookbook of memories and 400 recipes from a Pennsylvania Dutch childhood, and “The Mermaid Shawl & other Beauties: Shawls, Cocoons and Wraps”, a collection of her own lace knitting designs. Some of her short stories are available in e-format from HeartThrobBooks.com and additional knitting patterns from KnitYourTailOff.com. She currently lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America’s oldest seaport, and is writing another novel, “Depraved Heart” and another knitting book, “Siren Shawls, Seaman’s Scarves and Stories”. More information on her work is at www.KathleenValentine.com.
She currently lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America’s oldest seaport.