Catie Rhodes on Character-Naming and The Importance of Establishing a Social Media Presence

rhodes cName: Catie Rhodes
Current Residence: Houston, Texas
Favorite Read: Hard question. There are so many books I’ve loved. I always recommend Joe by Larry Brown and/or The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson, so let’s go with those.
Pet Peeves: Entitlement-minded people.

If You Weren’t a Writer You’d Be…In my fantasies? An outlaw like Ava Crowder on Justified. In reality? Stuck at a mindlessly boring minimum wage job.

Up Next:
I’m releasing the next installment of the Peri Jean Mace Paranormal Mysteries on September 29th. I’ve sold a Peri Jean Mace short story to Allegories of the Tarot, which will be for sale October 31st.

At which point did you know that writing was going to be a big part of your life?
Summer of 2007. I’d wanted to “be a writer” my whole life, but I never took the steps to make it happen. In summer of 2007, I was at a crossroads in my life and was discouraged and frustrated by my prospects. I realized I still wanted to be a published writer. I accepted that nothing happens overnight and anything worth having takes hard work. I decided to put my whole self into learning how to write fiction. I promised myself I’d never quit trying until I exhausted every possibility of making writing my career. And here I am.

Is Peri Jean Mace the exact opposite of you?
Hardly. She’s bits and pieces of me, but she’s also bits and pieces of people I’ve known.

Is there a big writing community in east Texas?
I don’t really know. By the time I started writing, I had moved to Houston and longer lived in East Texas. Some fairly well-known writers have come out of East Texas. Joe R. Lansdale—horror, mystery, noir—comes to mind. Mary Lynn Baxter—romance—is also from East Texas. I’d like to clarify something. When I refer to East Texas, I am referring specifically to the Piney Woods region of Texas. The designation has nothing to do with what’s on the eastern half of the Texas map. The Houston and the Dallas metro areas, while technically located eastern side of the map, are not routinely considered part of East Texas. This is something that is not common knowledge, and I think I sometimes confuse people.

What do you do when you get writer’s block so badly that you can’t even type a sentence?
The three Cs. Crochet, cook, or clean. While I do that, I try to think of questions that might get me unstuck. Once I hit on a question, I jot down a list of six possible answers. Usually, the best answers are further down the list.

Do you name your characters before you even start plotting?
Not really. I usually give them a placeholder name–Jim, Bob, Jane, Sally. Then, as I write, they become clear to me. Once I see what kind of person that particular character is, I know what they need to be named.
rhodes

When you base a character on an event on a real-life person or event, do you ask permission of the said person?
I’ve never based a character on a real-life person or event. The only situation in which I can see myself doing that is if I were approached to ghost-write an authorized biography. Matthew McConaughey–I am available to write your bio. Anytime! In all seriousness, my characters are inspired by an amalgamation of events and people. Though I can usually trace back a character’s origins to something I saw or heard, it wouldn’t be fair to say I based the character on a real person or event.

“Haste”, is a short story that you wrote and published. Most people don’t realize how much work goes into writing a short story.
For purposes of clarity and honesty, I need to point out that “Haste” was originally published in the Tales from the Mist anthology by the W2GE Street Team. I worked closely with the W2GE Street Team throughout the publication process and learned tons. But I’d never say I published “Haste” myself. As for the story itself, I wrote the first draft over the course of an afternoon. Following that, I did a bunch of rewrites based on the advice of peers. Because I enjoyed the process, I’d never say it was a lot of work.

What have you learned about book marketing that you’d like to pass on to other authors?
Do: Have an online presence under the name you plan to use to publish your books. In other words, if you plan to publish under the name Jimmy Ferguson, use that name for your website, your Twitter profile, your Facebook profile, and wherever else you’d like to be visible. Don’t use “JimmyWrites” or “BigBadJim” as your profile name. Don’t: Spend all your time on social media. Spend most of your time writing and learning the craft of writing. The only thing that increases sales is having something to sell.

Be sure to visit Catie Rhodes’ website HERE.

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