Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Get to Know: Cathy Bryant, Heart-Stirring Stories, Life-Changing Grace

Welcome to the first installment for “Get to Know:”, where I’ll be interviewing writers in various stages of writing and publishing. I believe that no matter what the stage we are in, there is always something for us to teach others—even if we don’t know it.

To kick off this new column, it is an absolute pleasure to introduce to you a good friend and one of my favorite critique partners, Cathy Bryant!

I met Cathy a couple of years ago through the American Christian Fiction Writers, we were both looking for critique partners and, even though we write in two completely different genres, we paired up. I can’t speak for her, but I figured that our differences would be assets to each other. We might pick out stuff others in the same genre might not. (Cathy’s note: Agreed!!!)

Cathy is the author of Texas Roads and the soon-to-be-released A Path Less Traveled. She also maintains a popular blog entitled Word Vessel and a monthly newsletter.

Welcome to Faith, Hope, and Suspense, Cathy!

Thanks for the invite, Ralene! I always enjoy spending time with you!

To start out with, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m just an ordinary person—a wife with two grown sons, one beautiful daughter-in-love, and the most precious grandson in the world. I teach private music lessons and write stories. In my spare time (Ha!) I enjoy reading, home improvement projects, watching movies, spending time outdoors, gardening, hiking, and canoeing.

How/when did you decide to become a writer?

I don’t think I decided to be a writer; it’s more like I just am. I truly believe when we acknowledge God as sovereign Lord in our lives, He directs our paths (the theme of A Path Less Traveled). Writing is just part of the path He put me on. I’ve been reading, writing, and telling stories since I was a child. This time in my life is when He chose to bring it to the forefront.

You took the unconventional route and got your novel self-published through Smashwords. What prompted that decision?

The short answer is because I felt that’s what God wanted me to do.

The decision to self-publish was difficult for me, mainly because I knew the stigma (especially in the writing world) against authors who are self-published. I’m a recovering people-pleaser, so the thought of setting myself up for ridicule and even hostility, was like stepping out in front of a firing squad…without a blindfold! Texas Roads was a 2009 finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest, and that opened doors for the book to be considered by several traditional publishers. In fact, the book was being considered by two different publishers when I felt God leading me to go the independent route. So I withdrew the manuscript from further consideration and jumped off the high dive!

Why did you choose Smashwords?

Smashwords.com was the starting point for Texas Roads because I wanted to make the book available first as an e-book. Smashwords.com was the logical choice because they also serve as a distributor to several online stores, including Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Apple. Next, I made Texas Roads available in print at Amazon.com. As the largest online bookstore, Amazon was again, a logical step. Just recently, I made the book available in print through Ingram distributors, so the book can be ordered at brick and mortar bookstores. I may change the order of that process a bit on the second book in the Miller’s Creek, Texas series—A Path Less Traveled—available Fall 2010.

What do you think are the pros/cons of being self-published?

I wrote an entire article on this at my blog. Here’s the link, in case anyone wants the long version: http://wordvessel.blogspot.com/2010/07/benefits-drawbacks-of-self-publishing.html.

Here’s the short version: PROS-you maintain control of your work (you call the shots), you set the timetable (no months, and even years, of waiting), you keep more of the profits per book (40-85% rather than 10-15%); CONS-the stigma (which I’m thankful to say, is decreasing), upfront costs (just like any business), and the biggest for me is the workload (no corporate help with distribution, publicity, design, etc.).

Do you think you’ll ever try the traditional route?

I’m a big believer in “never say never,” but now that I know the ropes of publishing a book, I’m not sure a traditional publisher can offer me a better deal.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read, study, pray, write. (Sounds like a movie title, huh?) =)

Read the kinds of books you want to write. Read a wide variety of books—non-fiction, classics, books outside your genre.

Study the craft of writing. There are an awesome number of great books and classes available to help you become a better writer. Take advantage of them, and apply what you learn to your writing.

Pray about the direction God would have you take with your writing. Let Him lead. It will take away so much of the pressure.

You can’t be a writer unless you write. Writing isn’t for wimps. It’s hard, lonely, mind-numbing W.O.R.K. Write constantly, and when you’re not writing, think about writing. (Yeah, it’s a form of mental illness…) ;)

What are the top three things that you think helped you to get to where you are as a writer today?

First, my relationship with God. He’s the reason I write—my motivation. He’s also my inspiration, and daily drips into my mind the direction He wants me to take and the ideas that come out in my stories and articles.

Second, encouragement from family and friends. My family and friends have been so awesome to encourage me in my writing. They’ve never once belittled me or my writing, and have been willing to sacrifice and help in whatever way they could. I feel beyond blessed!

Third, amazing resources of information, in the form of books, classes, organizations, and other writers and readers (including my awesome crit partner)! =) All of these are the whetstones to my words. They sharpen my humble, and often feeble, attempts at writing, and make my words sing!

Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?

Mmmm, I have several…but I’ll be nice and list just a few.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers will always be a favorite. This story touched my heart with God’s truth and love, and was a huge catalyst in my desire to write Christian fiction.

Another favorite is Anne of Green Gables. Anne and I are best buds, and I still relate to her on so many levels, almost like we’re sisters under the skin.

I’m also a huge fan of Susan May Warren. She writes so many different kinds of stories, and all of them well. She’s also a great writing teacher. I’ve yet to read a book she wrote that I didn’t like.

Is there anything else you would like to say to those reading this blog post?

If you’re a writer, hang in there! It’s easy to get discouraged and distracted. The enemy will do anything to keep us immobilized, but our God is greater than all. Depend on Him, and He’ll see you through.

Thank you, Cathy, for allowing us just a little peek into your world. It is a blessing and a pleasure to enjoy this time with you.

The pleasure and blessing is all mine, Ralene!

You all can find Cathy's novel Texas Roads here.


  1. it's always AWESOME to see the different roads and paths people take. Thanks for the interview, Cathy!

  2. You're very welcome, Tamara. I always learn a lot by reading interviews with other writers, too! =)

  3. Ralene, what a great interview!

    Cathy, I'm laughing at your comment that writing is a form of mental illness! Isn't that the truth? :) Thank you for sharing your experience of self-publishing with us. Interesting!

  4. Jill, you don't have to be crazy to be a writer, but it definitely helps! =)

  5. Nice interview, Ralene!

    Cathy, I know you a little from Twitter, but I learned a lot more about you through this interview. I like Anne of Green Gables too, especially because it's set in Canada, where I'm from. :) Good luck with your writing endeavors!

  6. Hi, Annie! Thanks for dropping by! L.M. Montgomery did such a great job of describing the setting, that I've always longed to see the great White Way and Marilla and Matthew's house. Maybe one of these days...

  7. Cathy--thank you so much for being a guest on my blog. It was such a pleasure to interview my awesome CP!

    Everyone else, thank you for stopping by and making Cathy feel welcome.

    Tamara, with your publisher going POD, I'd contact Cathy and see what she has done to promote her novel and booksignings, etc.

  8. Ralene, the pleasure was all mine! (And I'M the one with the awesome CP!) =)


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