KateJamesKate spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result, Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word. Kate’s goal is to entertain her readers with engaging stories, featuring strong, likeable characters. Kate has been honored with numerous awards for her writing. She and her husband, Ken, enjoy travelling and the outdoors, with their beloved Labrador Retrievers.

Lisette, thank you for this opportunity to be a guest at your writers’ chateau.

You are very welcome, Kate! Delighted to have you here.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Don’t give up on your dream!

There are so many viable options to getting your work published these days, you just need to keep at it and believe in yourself. If I have one regret, it is that I didn’t follow through when I first had the dream of writing. I got caught up in my professional life, and my first attempt, a half-finished manuscript, is tucked away in a storage box somewhere in our basement, possibly breeding some form of mold worthy of a sci-fi thriller.

Also, having someone who believes in you can be enormously helpful, even if you are a self-motivated individual like me. My husband buying me a personal laptop for my writing was the start of Silver Linings. I was wrongly convinced that I did not need another laptop, as I had a perfectly good one already. Psychologically, it made a huge difference. Thankfully, my husband has never said, I told you so—at least not directly!

This leads me to another bit of advice. If you have a “day job”, creating a clear separation between it and your writing may help, as a separate laptop for my writing did for me. As another example, an author friend works from home and has a home office. When she writes, she purposefully does it in a different room in her home.

Finally, read as much as you can, for enjoyment—of course—but also for learning! It’s a rare book these days that draws me in so much that I don’t at some level of consciousness analyze the writing to seek to improve my own.


Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I either got very lucky, my business background came in handy or, more than likely, it was a combination of the two. There is the artistic, creative side to writing, but there is an entire business side to it as well. Publishing is a business and for an author to excel, I believe they have to be able to understand and effectively deliver on both the creative and business aspects. Querying agents and/or publishers requires a combination of creativity and business acumen.

I was fortunate to have my very first manuscript picked up by a publisher. Although the publisher is small, and thus doesn’t have a large budget for marketing and promotions, they were a dream to work with both for editing and cover art/design. It also meant that my first book was in print and in book stores in about eighteen months from when I first sat down at my new laptop to start writing Silver Linings. The experience also afforded me the opportunity to learn a great deal about publishing, which I believe was invaluable in securing my contract with Harlequin.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to write for Harlequin, and have the privilege and pleasure to work with two of the most amazing people in the business: Victoria Curran and Paula Eykelhof.

Do you have any grammatical pet peeves to share?

This is an interesting question for me, and perhaps you’ll allow me to go on a bit of a tangent with it.

I had to “retrain” myself when I started writing fiction. Most of us have heard the axiom that in business we should write to the average grade eight intellect. I consider that a sad and demeaning statement. When I was in business, I always encouraged our communications teams—everyone in the organization, in fact—to strive to release high-quality, well-written, well-presented material. Annual reports, marketing materials, routine correspondence and e-mails all reflect on the brand of an organization. I was a stickler for proper sentence structure, grammar, spelling and so forth. When I first started writing fiction, I had to consciously retrain myself, for example, to not use “proper” sentence structure, especially where dialogue is concerned.  We don’t speak in proper sentences, and if my dialogue was constructed in that manner, I can guarantee it wouldn’t make for an enjoyable read!

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

Perhaps surprise is not the right word, but I continue to be amazed by and appreciative of the informal feedback and more formal reviews that Silver Linings has been getting. Reviews mean a great deal to authors, and I am grateful to everyone who takes the time to write one.

I was very pleasantly surprised and honored for Silver Linings to have received first place recognition in both readers’ choice contests it was entered in. The fact that people are reading my work and enjoying it is a thrill. The positive feedback is something I will never take for granted.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

I am glad we’re not having this discussion in person at a writers’ workshop, as I expect some people may be inclined to throw things at me. I enjoy writing a synopsis. It may have something to do with my business background, but I enjoy switching gears and writing the synopsis. To me, writing a synopsis is also an organizational tool, as it is essentially my outline for the manuscript. Writing it, I challenge myself on the characters’ personalities and motivations, and the key plot elements, and then I expand and embellish as I write the manuscript. To be clear, with respect to this latter point, I am not referring to a two page synopsis, but rather a much longer version that my editor wants to see as a proposal for a book.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I generally write scenes in order from my synopsis. If I find that I am not progressing quickly through a particular scene, I may jump ahead. I do this for a couple of reasons. Inherently, I don’t like to waste time, and if I am belaboring the scene without making progress, that’s what I feel I am doing. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, if the scene is not progressing well, there is a chance that it just doesn’t fit, and I have not yet admitted it to myself. If I jump ahead and finish the rest of the manuscript, I might find that it needed to be cut anyway. Once my first (rough) draft is complete, I go back and invariably add, remove, rework or reorder scenes before I venture to call it a completed first draft.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

All of the above! Okay, almost all. I was a full-time CEO when I wrote Silver Linings and my second manuscript. By necessity, that meant writing very early in the morning and late at night. I enjoy coffee, chocolates and wine. Add in tea (hot or iced) and more than likely one or more of those is within easy reach whenever I am writing. Music only enters the equation if my husband is home, as he loves to have it playing all the time.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

To the contrary! I believe the cover can have a huge impact on the success of a book, especially for lesser known authors. I believe most of us have picked up a book by an unknown author because the cover appealed to us. Although I don’t think people pass up on a book by their favorite author because the cover isn’t appealing, I do believe that some excellent work by unknown authors doesn’t get the same uptake as it could, if the cover isn’t appealing or appropriate for the genre.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Despise? No. Disrespect, most definitely!

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

We live north of Toronto, and we split our time between our home and cottage. We are fortunate to have two large, scenic properties, but if we were to move, my husband would want to be somewhere without snow! Texas and Arizona come to mind. Kelowna in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is a beautiful spot, too. I would need to have a large property. I like to visit cities, but I love nature and the outdoors, thus I would need to live somewhere we could have significant acreage.

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

My husband is really great at surprising me. The converse is much harder to do, as I have to get really creative with how and what I wrap for him, as he has an uncanny ability of knowing exactly what it is.  A particularly nice surprise, and one that is related to my writing, had to do with my contract with Harlequin. I was on a ten-day “world tour” and in Dubai when I received the e-mail from my editor with the good news. I, of course, shared the news with my husband immediately (time difference be damned!), and he was very happy for me.

Five days later, I arrived home at about seven in the evening after a thirteen-hour flight from Hong Kong, and very little sleep during most of the trip because of the full schedule, overnight flights and numerous time zones changes. I walked in to candlelight, a bottle of champagne on ice, a wonderful dinner, and a beautifully wrapped gift with a huge bow on it. If you have read my responses to the questions above, you may have guessed correctly that the gift was a new laptop!










Rachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She also owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in the San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…),,,, and Self Publishing Monthly. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family. 

Time to chat with Rachel!

What is your latest book?

I released my third book, Broken Pieces, last December. It’s a departure from my earlier humor books (Mancode: Exposed and A Walk In The Snark) but I felt it was important to address some of the difficult experiences I’ve had and what I’ve learned from them.

It’s done better than I ever dreamed – seven awards, 5-star reviews from top Amazon reviewers, but more importantly, the incredible bond I’ve formed with other survivors of childhood sexual abuse.


I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

Booktrope signed me for the print version of Broken Pieces this past fall, and the print version was published at the end of 2013.

Is your recent book part of a series?

You know, it didn’t really start out that way, but of course, I had so much more to say! I’ve also received feedback from readers that they want more, so I’ve started writing the next book, Broken Places, due next year.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

Well, this is interesting because it’s narrative nonfiction, written in essays, poetry, and prose. So it’s different in structure from telling a more traditional story with archetypes and arcs – but ultimately, it’s a story I’m telling, so some of that applies.

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?

Broken Pieces inspires survivors of childhood sexual abuse and lost love.

What else have you written?

My two humor books mentioned above (all books available on Amazon), two blogs, multiple guest articles (,, weekly for, monthly for the San Francisco Book Review, and Business 2 Community, and the new Self-Publisher’s Monthly), and a local Examiner (way back when).


What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

I read and reacted to an article this past fall – something along the lines that ‘all indie books are crap’ and the guy (it’s always a guy LOL) said we’re ruining literature and that we don’t know anything beyond ‘Buy my book!’ tweets.

Without going into great detail, let’s just say I disagreed and provided concrete proof that many indie authors are award-winning, well-reviewed, produce professional books, and are being signed. Those types of generalities drives me nuts.

That said, I have read some horrible indie books. Like anything, the onus is on us, the author, to work with professionals (editors, formatters, proofreaders, graphic designers) to make our book as amazing as it can possibly be.

What part of writing a book do you enjoy the most? The least?

I tend to become sort of obsessed with a comment or word and the pre-writing starts in my head. When I sit down to actually write something, I have that as my guiding theme or watchword, if you will. It goes from there.

I tend to outline in a general way, in that I’ll have major themes (like love, loss, grief, etc) and I write with those in mind. As a nonfiction author, I tend to not like chronological order but that’s a personal choice.


Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

As a nonfiction writer, scenes are different because I’m writing on a particular topic.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I definitely want to know the title. That’s always the main theme for any work, in my opinion. As for the ending, I definitely have the beginning, middle, and ending in mind as a guideline. Because my work is more free-form, I don’t have to adhere as closely to fiction guidelines.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I wait.

I don’t self-edit as I write, though I will go back over a piece before I send it on to my editor.

After working for a very long time on a book, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

Yes, absolutely. I tell my editor that I’m “saturated,” and can’t even look at it anymore. That’s why having an editor you can work with and trust implicitly makes such a huge difference for authors.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

In Broken Pieces, I wrote about being molested by my next-door neighbor (I was eleven; he was an adult with five kids). That wasn’t easy but I also didn’t write from his POV. I’m not sure I could do that, emotionally.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Some tough love:

Stop making excuses. Stop worrying about what others will think. People will hate it – get over it. If you’re worried about sharing sex scene because your parents/kids will know, guess what? They already know – the jig is up.

Give yourself permission.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I have self-published all three of my books. I’ve been approached by a few agents (who found me on Twitter, actually) but it didn’t work out. And that’s okay – I enjoy my 70% profit/book!

I did recently sign with Booktrope for print. They vet all books through their submissions process, but once you’re in, you’re in. I look forward to working with them on future books also. They are a hybrid publisher, so I retain more profits than if I went traditional. And I’ll still self-publish. I’m all in.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I’ve loved Twitter since day one. It’s short and sweet, the conversations are great, and it’s a wonderful equalizer: I’ve spoken with many authors, musicians, and even a few tech people – household names – who couldn’t have been nicer.

Do you have any grammatical pet peeves to share?

Too many! But my main one is that alot is NOT a word, people. It’s a lot. I feel bad for our teachers at this point. I mean, really?

I used to be exclamation mark averse, but I’ve started using them in a judicious manner. Maybe I’m just not that excited about things as other people.

What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

I adore involving characters with rich inner lives. I’m not big into genre fiction – I’m more a poetry and literary fiction kind of girl. That said, I’m a sucker for an engaging time-travel story.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

I’m thankful to have kept many journals over the years – many of them half started with pages ripped – but it was extremely helpful to read about my twenty-year old self and all the impressions and angst while writing all of my books.

I’m also the Google queen. I look up EVERYTHING. If you want to know something, it’s out there.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I definitely feel we have to share our work. Writing in a bubble gives an author zero objectivity. So I share pieces here and there with my editor (knowing she’ll see it all when it’s done, of course), as well as a few writer friends whose opinions I respect. I also share on my blog – it’s good for people to stay in touch and see what we’re working on.

I also feel strongly that betareaders are an integral part of my process. They are readers! Of course I want their opinion.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

My first two humor books are satirical, yet many readers take the work literally and become offended. At first, I was upset that people would think I was a bad person. Then, after getting 1-star reviews saying I’m a terrible mother (because I let my kids listen to Queen), or headed for divorce (because I talked with an ex), I’ve gotten used to it.

I’ve learned not to take anything personally with regard to reviews. The reviews that really touch me are the ones from other childhood sexual abuse survivors – I’ve even created a private Facebook group because that bond is such a connector for so many. Being the voice for people has been extremely gratifying.

Do you write anything besides non-fiction?

I am currently working on a romance.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I started writing at age 10, after my teacher read us The Secret Garden. I was mesmerized, and decided I wanted to write like that someday!

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your book as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

Not really. People need to know pretty quickly whether a book is right for them. If we can’t explain it in a few sentences, how will they get it?

If you were to write a novel, what might it be about?

Similar topics that I write as nonfiction: relationships, love, loss, grief, family.

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

I say explore the middle – look at hybrids like Booktrope. It’s an excellent option.

What have you done to market your books and what did you find the most effective? The least effective?

I do everything! The best thing an author can do is connect with readers on a personal level, and blogs and social media allow for that (notice I said ‘connect’ and not blast with constant ‘Buy my book!’ links). Advertising is also very helpful: I make my husband do my Google Adwords (too much like math for me), and now he’s started a business and does Adwords for scores of authors!

I say try everything: do promotions, price reductions, giveaways, blog tours, blogging, guest blogging, interviews, social media, ads – it all increases your Google ranking and therefore, your visibility.

I’m sure you’ve read many interviews with your fellow authors. In what ways do you find your methods of creating most similar and dissimilar?

I tend not to dissect the writing process as intensively as many others do (not that I have a problem with that, of course). I find there’s just something magical about creating something from nothing – a gift if you will – and I love when the words flow through me and form sentences that carry that magic.

A less woo-woo answer is: do whatever feels right for you. There’s no right or wrong. Yes, writing is an art and a craft. There are ‘rules,’ which I personally feel are meant to be broken. Play with it, have fun with it. Make it your own.

Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous books?

Yes, absolutely. Broken Pieces is personal, and it discusses difficult topics most people shy away from. It’s not for everyone and that’s okay, too. It’s a win for me either way.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

It’s hard. I get it. I DO. But look at what they’re writing and see if there’s at least one nugget of helpful information. We are so inside our heads all the time, and nobody can live our memories or experiences. Writing is the next best thing.

Listen, nobody universally likes any one book.

Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?

I have found success going free on Amazon (my eBook), but I find that one or two days is plenty as long as you get the word out via the various ‘free sites’ that list our books.

Have you been involved with the Kindle Direct Program? If yes, do you believe it’s worthwhile?

Yes, I have and Yes, I do. All three of my books have gone free and then ranked much higher than if I hadn’t taken them free. That said, two times/year is plenty. Our books are worth something – we worked hard and invested a lot of time and money in creating them. Don’t sell yourself short.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

Definite night owl. I HATE getting up early. I’m allergic to it. I go straight to my coffeemaker every morning, first thing, don’t talk to me, don’t look at me, just don’t. And music, absolutely.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design

It’s HUGELY important. People absolutely do judge a book by its cover, especially since we purchase 50% of our books online now.

Every day brings forth new changes and shifts in the world of publishing. Any predictions about the future?

I think hybrid publishing will become bigger than ever as authors (both indie and traditional) look for a middle ground.

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

I think it’s a combination of both, for me. I have character portraits I outline but once the story start to go, it starts to go.

How would you define your style of writing?

Free-form, to a certain extent. It’s always important to me that I avoid cliché at all costs – sometimes I’ll take one and completely deconstruct it as to make it unrecognizable. That’s a fun challenge for me.

A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are? What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?

I go back and forth on this. I’m an avid reader and I certainly understand that the book I’m reading means so much to that author. If it’s not up to par, I would never leave a poor review; rather, I contact the author with my observations.

It’s something we have to learn, as authors, that not everyone will like our work and that’s okay. Learn what you can from the negative reviews and then just move on. Keep writing. Always.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

I haven’t – perhaps it’s because I write so many articles and blog posts, I always have ideas for my writing.

What genre have you never written in that you’d like to try?

I’d definitely be interested in writing time-travel or something paranormal – not vampires or wolves, but a different type of world.

Have you ever started out to write one book and ended up with something completely different?

Yes! I started to write the third of my humor books (Chickspeak: Uncovered) and just didn’t have my heart in it. Broken Pieces was pushing its way out. I just had to open the door.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?

To trust my voice.

Everyone has an opinion about our writing, but ultimately, it’s our name that goes on that book. You.

Would you like to write a short poem for us?

‘Happiness leaves no scars.

Pain leaves evidence.

We know where we’ve been.’

~ Broken Places (WIP)

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I live in Northern California, even though I’m still RacheintheOC everywhere. I lived in Orange County, CA for 17 years. I grew up here so it’s great to be back. If I could live anywhere, I’d live in Europe – I love the history and architecture. London, most likely.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

I enjoy trains and planes – the whole adventure of it. Cars are okay – traffic sucks. Boats – I’ve never cruised so I can’t say, but I’d like to one day.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

Favorite: Everyone knows I love Nutella, though I don’t even keep it in the house anymore. I have absolutely no willpower when it comes to that stuff. Least favorite: Lima beans ties with green peppers. Blecch.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

To draw, be an artist. I draw stick people and even then, they’re pretty awful. And to cook – I burn everything.

What makes you angry?

Racism and abuse.

What music soothes your soul?

I listen mostly to female singers. I love love love Tori Amos, Poe, and Imogen Heap. New favorites are Lana Del Rey and Banks.

What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?

Journalism and Communications studies in college. I use much of what I learned then in every day life.

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

Friends, Doctor Who, Weeds, Castle. I don’t watch a lot of TV (I have a husband and two kids who fight for it) but when I do, I turn those shows on.

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

I’d love a studio – my daughter (age 14) is an amazing artist. I’d love her to have a space set up just for that.

What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?

Film: Blade Runner, hands down. Book: The Time-Traveler’s Wife (the movie sucked though).

Have you ever walked out of a movie? If so, what was it?

I almost walked out of Lord of the Rings – not a fan (ducks). But I stayed and shut my eyes. I’m not big into violence.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Mani/pedis. I rarely take time for myself, but this is a gift I give me once every few months.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Have more compassion, be less judgmental, give more than we receive.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Watching my children sleep.



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