Interview with Cat McMahon

What is your writing process?
Never have I been one of those people who can run off at the fingers. Instead, I let the topic soak into my brain. I tend to mull it over while doing daily chores, jotting down keywords, phrases and ideas, and I sleep on the subject for a couple of nights, sometimes more . . .

. . . until the idea gels and takes shape.

Think of my writing process as collecting puzzle pieces, and then sorting them into some kind of order that makes sense.

I don't always know where to start. It's never at the beginning. I start at the place where the "puzzle pieces" fit together; they begin to take on form, and then I work out from there. I might work on several parts at the same time, a little here, a little there.

At some point, everything starts to fall into place, a whole picture emerges, albeit a little rough around the edges.

That's when the beginning jumps out at me and I start working there, and reworking the story, blending, smoothing, refining, until the puzzle is no longer just a bunch of funny shaped pieces put together, but a painting, of sorts, depicting the vision I have in my head, infused with heart and soul making it a living thing.
When did you first start writing?
From the moment I could hold a pencil, I wrote. I mastered cursive before I was taught print handwriting in school, and then I went on to master words and then sentences by studying the dictionary and encyclopedias.

Though I kicked out school assignments to please my teachers, I labored to learn writing by copying author's I most esteemed on whatever paper I could get my hands on, P. L. Travers, Howard Pyle, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Willa Cather, Edna Ferber, Henry David Thoreau, Robert Frost and Langston Hughes.

At various corporations I wrote company newsletters, press releases, promotional pamphlets, much correspondence, board minutes, contracts and documentation, such as standard procedure manuals.

As with any author, one thing leads to another until one day you become published.
Who are your favorite authors?
Louis L'Amour--Greatest storyteller

Zane Grey--Master painter--words are his paint, the pen is his brush and paper is his canvas

C. S. Lewis--Profound philosopher and theologian

Benjamin Franklin--The quintessential Renaissance man

Mary Stewart--supreme spinner of suspense
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Years ago, I wrote two novels and did everything right to get the attention of the traditional publishing world only to remain obscure as do most writers. So, I boxed up my dream and went on with the business of living.

Several years ago, there was a day . . . . One moment I was fine, working at a full-time job I loved, completing studies to advance my career, and caring for my family.

Before the day was out, I was dying from complications of a killer flu. I danced with death for over a year, thereafter.

Life as I had known it had changed forever.

Unable to resume my career or previous lifestyle, I was lost on the trail for the first time in my life. Facing the vast unknown was a risky challenge. My reality was each day might be my last.

Life is terribly and wonderfully precious . . . and I held on tight to that determined spirit, to "live the adventure", and to the desire to make life beautiful.

In my lifetime I've been very blessed to experience the reality of "dreams come true" several times.

Following the major life altering illness, my husband suggested I take up writing, again. So, I dusted off that dream after having shelved it for decades and dove in.

I asked myself, "If others can do it, why can't I?" My gift to share was "adventure". I threw in my penchant for cats and thought I might help others by sharing some gluten-free recipes I have developed over the years.

By doing something every day to achieve my dream, persevering through learning curves, overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges, and disregarding naysayers . . .

. . . in a year's time I published a website and a YouTube channel; created business and marketing plans; drafted two book manuscripts, completed research for two more, and published two ebooks. Before the end of that year, I published those books in paperback editions and created and marketed a calendar featuring my photography.

What feedback I received was enthusiastically positive. So I ran with that. In some way, what I was doing was touching people's lives in a positive way.

That became my motivation . . . to make the world a better place, one person at a time through my writing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating a work that results in my readers coming away with an unforgettable experience, as if they jumped into the book and are transported to the place I'm writing about, as if they are really there . . . that's my challenge, conveying the joy of such places.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is very complex.

Combining the talent of a graphic artist or photographer with the skills of a copy writer and the genius of a marketer to create a masterpiece with mass appeal is no small feat.

In a few seconds cover design must grab the reader's eyes, make them pause long enough to glance at a few carefully crafted words created to hook their interest enough to convince them they want your book so much, they can't live without it and are willing to part with their hard earned money.

In those precious few seconds, the cover design must convey to the reader, what the book is about and why they should buy it, now. The cover design should be so good it's as if the book jumped off the shelf into the readers' hands. Before they know it, they're engrossed in your story and can't wait to tell their friends about the best read they've ever had.

As I am no graphic artist, I rely on my photography, one of the many learning curves I am currently engaged in, including copy writing and online marketing. So, I constantly study bestselling books in my genre and apply what I learn to the books I publish.

Someday, when I no longer have to bootstrap my online businesses and book publishing, I will hire a professional cover designer, so I can spend most of my working time writing the next book and future bestseller.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I was a child, my father instilled in his offspring a sense of adventure and wonder. Our feet itched to explore new places close and far from home, to discover new sights and experiences.

If our feet couldn't convey us to choice places to see, we packed up and rode our bikes. When we came of age, we drove and expanded our modes of transportation; we did whatever it took to get to our chosen destination, the jumping off point for our latest adventure.

I married an adventuring spouse; it was love at first sight, forever. Our children cut their teeth on wilderness survival. No schoolhouse walls for them!

During these years, we dreamed of escaping the city. It took time for that dream to coalesce, and more time for that dream to manifest itself into a tangible reality. We built our "cabin in the woods", a beautiful place to wake up to each morning, a pleasure to come home to after a hard day's work.

Residing here is like living a dream every day!

Some say adventure is where you find it.

For me, this sense of adventure is more of a state of mind, a mental outlook and a way of living.

I enjoy experiencing the adventure of everyday life, creating and sharing delicious culinary delights with family and friends, romping in the outdoors with my cats, Dodger and Abby, maintaining and restoring the mountain forest in which we live, spending time with my family by making each moment with them special and memorable, and getting out now and then to explore the great big beautiful world we live in.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm an avid reader and curious by nature, so I am always on the lookout for a great read wherever I am, whether it is nonfiction or fiction. There's not enough time in a day to devour all the wonderful books out there!

When I read a great book, I always follow up by reading the author's other publications.

When family, friends and other people I meet recommend a book, I often follow up on the lead.

When I travel, I enjoy perusing small hole-in-the-wall bookstores and always come home with at least one ebook or print edition relevant to my destination as a souvenir.

When I enjoy a particular culinary adventure created by someone else, whether family, friend or an upcoming chef, I often come home with a lead to a great cookbook to add to my growing collection.

When I interact with my fan base via social media or live chat on my websites, or when I'm doing research for the current book I am writing, I'm always stumbling across terrific ebooks to add to my reading list.

I love libraries; they are grand adventures of the mind, and I love spending hours getting lost in the stacks, discovering enthralling tales and fascinating new information about the world we live in.

For years I worked in a library to help pay for school tuition and came away with a huge collection of bookmarks now marking special passages in many books I own.

The living room walls at our "cabin in the woods" are lined with bookshelves stuffed the family's most treasured books and there are overflowing bookshelves in just about every other room, too. Family, friends and other visitors enjoy kicking back in soft easy chairs set by the fire and losing themselves in a good story, a steaming cup of their favorite brew by their side and a purring cat curled up in their lap.

Thank goodness there are affordable ebooks, because our cabin doesn't have enough room to contain all the print editions of the books we now own in our ever growing virtual libraries!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Currently, I own a Kindle Paperwhite with a pink leather case so I can always find it. This e-reader goes everywhere with me, because I use every crack of time I can find to read. I love the durability, pack-ability and versatility of this device. Growing up, who would have imagined a future where one might be able to pack a whole library with them on an extended road trip? We live in an amazing age!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Words, and what they can do, have always been a fascination of mine even before I could read or write . . . so powerful. It would come as no surprise an unabridged dictionary would be one of my favorite books holding an esteemed place on a bookshelf in my home library, along with a quality thesaurus.

There are very few educators who truly know how to write, let alone are effective in passing along this skill to their students. I was fortunate to have studied under three such individuals. They were highly respected professionals who were tough on their students. These teachers dedicated time outside their busy class schedule to mentor those who proved they were committed to mastering the writing skill, regardless of their talent. One day while perusing the bookshelves in Barnes and Noble, I stumbled across a little paperback copy of, " The Lively Art of Writing: Words, Sentences, Style and Technique -- an Essential Guide to One of Today's Most Necessary Skills" by Lucile Vaughan Payne. This amazing little book teaches writing to anyone who wants to learn, from Kindergarten through college level adult in record time. Without a doubt, it's the best writing book I've ever encountered.

I'm a credentialed Home Economist and nutrition is one of my hobbies. So is good old fashioned cooking and delicious food. Some of the best comes from a love-worn copy of "Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book" gifted to my parents on their wedding day and handed down to me when they passed on. I use it to teach my children how to cook and for inspiration to create new recipes and culinary adventures using wholesome organic and farm fresh foods. Thus, visitors will find my treasured copy of, "Let's Cook It Right" by pioneering nutritionist, Adelle Davis (through the years, I've managed to collect copies of all her books), sitting next to my favorite cookbook along with, "How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method" by J. I. Rodale, "Five Acres and Independence, A Handbook for Small Farm Management" by M. G. Kains and "The Have-More Plan" by Ed and Carolyn Robinson.

Likewise, I enjoy sewing, dressmaking, tailoring, quilting and all manner of needlework. The best sewing book ever written is on my bookshelf, a 1954 copy of "Singer Sewing Book" by Mary Picken.

I'm a history buff and there's no better way to enjoy it than by reading a well written historical novel. One of America's iconic authors is Louis L'Amour, a masterful storyteller and my favorite writer. A large collection of his works graces a bookshelf in our home library right next to a collect by Zane Grey. My all-time favorite novel is, "How the West was Won"; it's an epic read.

I have many, many more books I've collected over the years, timeless favorites I enjoy reading again and again.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Every morning we wake up to a fresh new beginning, a blank page upon which we write the story that shapes the whole of our lives. It's but one small chapter in a compelling human drama. I chose mine to be adventurous.

So, I awake every morning with that youthful sense of "wonder". What adventure does this day hold? How can I make it great, not just for me, but for those lives I will touch today?
Describe your desk
I have a small vintage (mid-century) writing desk I picked up decades ago at an estate sale for $25.00. It is solid maple with a beautiful honey brown finish that is almost iridescent with scrolled bailed handles on the drawers.

There is space enough for my lap top computer with a wall hugging desk organizer behind it, a small cabin-décor lamp and room enough for processing paperwork.

One Christmas, my husband surprised me with a vintage solid maple Singer Sewing Chair with the original upholstery . . . a perfect match!

On the wall behind my desk is a framed corkboard where I artfully display cover photos of my published books, a beautiful collage of upcoming book ideas surrounding a decorative display of the book I'm currently writing, and anything else that inspires me to keep focused on my writing aspirations and business goals.

To the right of my desk is an antique reproduction file cabinet and to the side is a beautiful vintage table, strewn with what I need for my current writing project.

My comfortable workspace is located in a corner of the family room near a fireplace and a wonderful view of the forest outside through a big floor to ceiling glass door.
What are you working on next?
While simultaneously expanding the market reach of my books by publishing to the global marketplace, I am working on the next book in the Road Trip Explore! series and finishing up my first in a series of gluten-free cookbooks.
Published 2017-02-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Road Trip Explore! California--Yosemite National Park
Series: Road Trip Explore!. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 6,380. Language: English. Published: June 10, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » By region, Nonfiction » Travel » National Parks
Climb geologic marvels, backpack a remote wilderness or ride a horse up a trail. Enjoy camping, go birding and photograph wildflowers. Be awestruck by ancient trees, peruse historical sites and take a dip in crystalline lakes. Discover vast vistas, incredible wildlife and a wondrous landscape at one of USA’s premier National Parks.
Road Trip Explore! Oregon--Clackamas River Recreation Area
Series: Road Trip Explore!. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 5,150. Language: English. Published: April 11, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » By region, Nonfiction » Travel » Road travel
Roam the Wilderness! Hike the backcountry, raft the rapids & try waterskiing. Go camping, catch trout & explore a ghost town. Be awestruck by jaw-dropping vistas! Explorers can use this book as a jumping off point to the remarkable Clackamas River Recreation Area. Vicarious travelers will enjoy an armchair tour of one the most pristine watersheds in the USA.
Road Trip Explore! Oregon--Molalla River Corridor & Table Rock Wilderness
Series: Road Trip Explore!. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 3,390. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » By region, Nonfiction » Travel » Road travel
Venture the Wild! Shoot the rapids, bike the byway or ride a horse. Go camping, swimming & catch fish. Hike heavenly heights & see majestic mountains. Explorers can use this book as a jumping off point to create their own adventure to the outstanding Molalla River Corridor & Table Rock Wilderness. Vicarious travelers will enjoy an armchair tour of one of the most scenic areas in Oregon USA.
Road Trip Explore! Oregon Central Coast--Lincoln City to Yachats
Series: Road Trip Explore!. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 4,620. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » By region, Nonfiction » Travel » Road travel
Discover the Coast! Fly a kite, build sandcastles & go fishing. Watch whales, surf crashing waves & go beachcombing. Be awestruck by breathtaking vistas! Explorers can use the book as a jumping off point to incredible adventures on the Oregon Central Coast. Families can capture precious memories. Vicarious travelers will enjoy an armchair tour of one of the most scenic areas in Oregon USA.