Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spotlight: Kathy Otten

Today, we have Romance Author Kathy Otten visiting us at Just Write!  Let's ask Kathy some questions. . .

~  What kind of stories/books do you write?
I love writing historical romance, especially from the time of the Civil War through the end of the Cowboy era.

~  How long have you been writing?
I’ve made up stories and written them down since I was a kid.

~   How long have you been writing and seriously pursuing publication?

I submitted a contemporary romance to Harlequin about sixteen years ago. They told me my hero wasn’t heroic enough.  I didn’t know what that meant or how to fix it, so I put everything on the back burner until about six years ago. My oldest was a senior in high school then, and I had more time to join writers groups.  I learned about point of view, show vs. tell, character goals, and hooks.  I rewrote some of my old novels and came up with some new short stories.  Once I worked up my courage, I began the long process of submitting to agents and editors.

~  How many manuscripts did you complete before you sold?
Well, I had the one novel, which had been rejected by Harlequin and another historical western that I was submitting to agents.  I had a third novel, but it wasn’t finished, because I’d come to the middle and didn’t know where to go with it.  But I also had a Civil War short story, Redemption of a Cavalier, which I wrote after reading the book, Characters and Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card. This story which kind of began in my own personal point-of-view exercise, evolved into a story I thought I could submit.

~  Please tell us about receiving “The Call.”
I’m afraid I never really received, “The Call.”  I found a little blurb about The Wild Rose Press in a news letter from my writers organization.  They are an e-publisher, but at the time, I had no idea what that meant.  I didn’t even own a computer.  My daughter helped me retype my old-fashioned, typed pages into a file on her lap top.  She set me up with an e-mail account and I submitted the query letter for my Civil War short story.
I was elated when I got a letter back asking for the story.  The editor read it and asked for changes, which once again I had to have my daughter help me.  Once they were done and submitted they offered me a contract, naturally via email.  And that was my beginning.

~  To expand on your "Call Story"— What did you do when you got the call or read the email?  Scream?  Faint?
I’m not exactly the scream or fainting type.

~  How did you feel when you found out you sold?
I still didn’t have a computer so I would have to ask my daughter every day after school, if I could check my email.  She would grumble and say hurry up, because she always wanted to scroll around the internet and chat with her friends.  So when I saw the email about the contract I was happy, but not quite sure what to do next.

~  Who was the first person you told?

I was in my daughter’s bedroom at the time so I naturally told her.  She wasn’t exactly jumping up and down.  It was more like a, “Oh, that’s good.”

~   How did you celebrate?
I never celebrated.  My daughter then had to create a file to save the contract and the other info that came with it.  Afterward there was an exasperating (for my daughter at least) explanation on how to go to the library and print out the contract.  When I told my husband at dinner, all he said was, “How much money are you going to get?”

I now have my own computer and I’m gradually learning to use it without constantly having to ask the kids how to do something.

My newest story is a historical western, holiday novella, which was released for Christmas Dec. 9th.

An Ordinary Angel
by Kathy Otten

Available Now
The Wild Rose Press

A lifetime of polite indifference is all Julianne Spencer sees when she envisions a future with her current suitor, Mr. Terrel Lee Parker.  She is looking for someone more passionate, more heroic, who can love her for who she really is and not the proper young lady she pretends to be.  Her future seems hopeless until Christmas Eve when fate drops a wounded outlaw at her door and she comes to realize true heroes can be found inside even ordinary men.


“I-I don’t hate you, Mr. Parker.” In all her nineteen years, Julianne Spencer had never been so ashamed of her actions. She shifted uncomfortably, suddenly feeling as shy and awkward as Mr. Parker usually appeared.
His dark gaze searched her face for just a moment, as though judging her sincerity, then acknowledged her statement with a slight nod.
“I-I am so sorry for my part in that conversation you overheard. Those comments—what Maggie repeated—what I said—I didn’t really mean it. I was just…”
He nodded again.
“But I…”
“I accept your apology, Miss Julianne. And you needn’t worry. I’ll not impose myself on you again. Merry Christmas.” Ever the southern gentleman, he politely touched his finger to his hat brim and stepped into the street.
“Mr. Parker, wait!” Anxiety gave her voice an edge rarely heard in her usual dulcet tones. He swung to face her, his brow arched in surprise.
“I wanted to say—that is— You’re a nice man. You have excellent manners. You never swear, or smoke, or drink. You dress well. You are polite and articulate. But after all these months of church socials, dances, and Sunday dinners, I-I’ve never seen you dirty.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I’ve never seen you dirty.” Her shoulders rose and fell as she heaved a frustrated sigh. “I mean, I still don’t know your favorite food. I don’t know what makes you angry or how to make you laugh. And I don’t believe you know me any better.
“I can almost see the two of us, ten years down the road, still caught up in this cold relationship of polite indifference. I am sorry, Mr. Parker, but you deserve more than that, and so do I.”


You can contact Kathy through her web site at

Thanks for a great interview, Kathy!!!

AM   :)


Kathy Otten said...

Hi Anne,
Thanks so much for having me today. I almost forgot about it because I've been working on edits for my new book and had set my Thesaurus on top of my blotter style desk calendar.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Loved this interview. It's comforting to know another writer that is not up to speed with the electronic times! Good luck.

Kathy Otten said...

Yes Brenda, where would we all be without kids?

EA said...

What a wonderful interview. It's tough when we get the rejection slips that tell us absolutely nothing, or worse, confuse us. So many of us writers have stories written, "once upon a time" in our lives that we never think anyone will see, or we get stuck half-way through. Those first stories, IMO, hold a special place for us.
Good luck with your book, Kathy.

Kathy Otten said...

Thanks for stopping by. I'm so grateful for the support of other writers who through various organizations and critique groups, help us deal with those rejections and offer ways to help us make our stories better.

Joyce Henderson said...

The end of the cowboy era? Who knew? Bust a cotton-pickin' minute, Kathy. :-)

Well, really, Texans, and I'm one of 'em, have no clue the cowboy era is past. While I'm no longer a resident of Texas, I have a passel of relatives all over Lone Star terrain, and some are cowboys in the true sense of the word. Still run cattle, the whole chuckwagon life, minus the chuckwagon, of course.

True, since I also write cowboys and Indian historical, I realize times have certainly changed, but the cowboy era is alive and well in my neck of the woods, and I still see delicious hunks in my gray matter, on my computer screen, and between book covers. (My guy is no slouch, either, thank you very much.) :-)

Best of luck with you new release, and keep writing. It only gets better as time goes by.

Joyce Henderson said...

All right, it would help if I proof before I zip stuff into cyberspace. It's Just, not Bust a cotton pickin' minute. :-)

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Joyce, you're funny. Point well taken. I used to have Quarter Horses and my husband and I milked a herd of 55 Jersey cows. Sadly, that was as close as I ever got to a cowboy. But I dream about Sam Elliot, Tom Selleck and Kevin Costner in their finest old-time cowboy garb.

AnneMarie Novark said...


Your story sounds intriguing and your characters leap off the page!!!

I see I'm going to have to make a purchase real soon!!!

Thanks for being here today!!!

Debra St. John said...

Hi Anne and Kathy,

Nice interview, ladies. The age of computers sure has changed things everywhere, that's for sure!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Kathy,
Loved your call story because it was so "low key". Nice excerpt, too. I love the civl war era that you write about. Your stories are always great.


Kathy Otten said...

Anne Marie,

Thanks so much for having me today. You asked some great questions.

Kathy Otten said...

Debra and Margaret,
Thanks for stopping by today and taking the time to post a comment. Your kind words are appreciated.

Chiron said...

Loved the interview and excerpt, Kathy! The internet age sure has changed the landscape. *smile*

Wishing you many more sales!

--Chiron O'Keefe
Weekly Motivation for Writers at
The Write Soul:

PS... And Joyce, I rather liked "Bust a cotton-pickin' minute"!! :-D

Christiana said...

Thanks for the great interview! I'm a HUGE Kathy Otten fan. Her characters are so flawed and real, you can't help but relate to what they're going through. From the first word, I'm yanked into the story, a willing hostage as the plot twists and turns and writhes around me. I can't wait to read more from this up-and-coming author!

I appreciate you taking the time to interview talented writers like Kathy, and give us "wannabes" a little taste of what it's *really* like when the publishing world finally does open it's doors.

Kathy Otten said...

Thanks for stopping by. I love my computer, but there are still so many things I haven't figured out. Last night my daughter, the same one who helped me with my first short story, said, "Seriously, Mom, you need to take a computer class. No, seriously."

Kathy Otten said...

OMG! You made be blush. Not that I never blush, just not while I'm on the computer. But your words really touched me. Thank you so much. You have so made up for every rejection letter I ever received. Hugs!