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Catherine Leggitt ~ Payne & Misery ~ Book Giveaway

Help me Welcome Catherine Leggitt, author of Payne & Misery. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, and editor presently residing in northern California. During her first career—after raising children and before caring for her aging parents—Catherine worked as an elementary school teacher, where she developed her flair for playacting and storytelling. Struggling with retirement, Catherine needed a distraction and found it at her keyboard.

We’d love to hear a little about yourself and your writing journey. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I started writing out of despair. When my husband retired, he moved us to his dream house—an incredible log lodge-like structure on fourteen wooded acres in northern California. The view out the kitchen windows was amazing and I soon fell in love with the town and our new church. I dug right into my new life, remodeling the kitchen and re-landscaping the yard. I got active with a women’s Bible study group and the prayer group at our church. But we were ten hours from children, grandchildren, and old friends and that was hard. Then, out of the blue, I spiraled white-knuckle style into menopause. Emotions went wacky! Every little situation took on huge negative proportions. I cried without knowing what I was crying about. My poor husband didn’t know what to do with me. My doctor refused hormone treatment. I had to get a handle on my life somehow and began to cry out to God.

One day in my beautiful upstairs home office, I looked out the window. Down the hill from us, sat a lonely little house. I had never seen the occupants. So I sat down at my computer and began to write a story about why these people never showed themselves. I had no idea where the story would go, no overall plan, no idea at all whether God even wanted me to do this or not. I was simply desperate to get my mind off myself. To my great amazement, a story poured out my fingers. Many times I would draw from real life events, such as my husband burning the oak leaves in the pasture, or something I’d just learned in my Bible study. Before long, I knew for certain that God wanted me to write, but I asked the other members of our prayer team to pray with me about how much “God” I should put in the story, and what He wanted me to do with the story when I finished. Gradually, it became very clear that God is part of every story. So I knew I must write Christian fiction.

I should also tell you, that this first book, Payne & Misery, which has just been published by Westbow Press, has been completely rewritten ten times, been professionally edited twice, and the whole process of getting this book in print has taken all of seven long years. During that time, I didn’t dare call myself a writer, because I wasn’t sure whether God gave me this task solely to bless my heart or whether He meant for others to be blessed through it as well. Finding a publisher has been very difficult. But several of my family members have read the book at various times along the way. God has been refining both my writing and my life during this time.

Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.

This is fun!
  1. I was adopted at age one week and rode to my new home in an airplane piloted by my new father.
  2. For two years until they closed it, I attended the last one-room school in California, next door to beautiful Mission San Luis Rey. Grades one to eight were taught in one large room. I remember it as great fun listening to the older kids do their lessons.
  3. When I was six years old, I appeared with 3 other children from our one-room school on the old TV program, Art Linkletter’s House Party. Art asked me if I knew what “matrimony” meant. I said it was something about a bull because I heard my daddy say so. (I don’t know why I said that. I had never heard the word before. My father thought it was particularly funny because we had cows but no bulls at our farm.) Art deadpanned to the audience and said, “Well, some men think that.”
  4. I used to play a blue accordion with my name on it and also the flute.
  5. I received a scholarship to study voice in college.

Did you have storytellers when you were growing up that influenced you? Were you an avid reader as a child?

Both of my parents read to me from infancy. Dad’s favorites included Oz books by L Frank Baum and anything by HG Wells. Mother read poems, especially Christina Rossetti and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She knew many poems by heart. Mother read the Little House on the Prairie series, Little Women, and many other classics. In addition, every Saturday morning, we’d go to the library in town where the children’s librarian would read to a group of us at “Story Hour.” I read many books as a child. I also wrote and illustrated stories. My mother heartily encouraged this as if she had a budding genius on her hands. Dad was a great storyteller, as well.

What do you love about writing?

I love the writing itself—getting ideas down on a page. When it works right, there is nothing quite like the feeling. After I’ve written a particularly wonderful sentence or paragraph, I can hardly contain the joy. I know it is not my creativity but God’s because I regularly ask Him for creativity. What a wonderful thing when He shares some with me. Writing is the only thing I’ve ever discovered that makes me forget about time and everything around me. I get completely focused. I could write without eating or sleeping. My husband requires me to have a life, however. This is probably a good thing.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

I had to really think about this. I do not think any part is the most difficult. I get stuck on every part of it at one time or another. Sometimes I procrastinate because a scene is not working right. Sometimes I realize that what I’ve written will not hold together and I have to delete large portions. That’s discouraging. Sometimes the planning is difficult. No doubt about it, writing is hard work, but, oh so rewarding.

Tell us the story of PAYNE & MISERY

Christine Sterling’s loneliness reduces her to snooping on neighbors she’s never seen. When her newly-retired husband, Jesse, becomes obsessed with a hobby requiring long weekends away, Christine inserts herself into the wrong place at the wrong time—a sure recipe for disaster. Add Christine’s dubious “gift” of observation, a super-sized need to rescue, and a double dose of imagination. Sprinkle with peculiar circumstances lurking just down the hill and what do you get? Not the glittering paradise of togetherness Jesse promised their “Golden Years” would be. You get trouble. Big trouble.

Christine has already demonstrated a severe propensity for jumping to wrong conclusions. When she discovers an injured neighbor named Lila Payne withering away in the house next door, friends and family turn a deaf ear. Something about crying wolf once too often. Until Lila and Christine’s beloved border collie, Molly, both disappear the same night. Who’s crying wolf now? Christine’s best friend throws her a lifeline of prayer, but even with God’s help, can they save Lila and Molly in time?

Are there themes in Payne & Misery that you hope the reader sees? Are there themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Payne & Misery is written around several themes. I hope the reader will come away with new awareness concerning the pain that is inevitable in all of our lives. If we embrace pain, we will be miserable. If we choose to embrace life and joy instead, we are able to rise above the situation and find healing and restoration. In every case, pain will either destroy or cause growth. In addition, the question of whether God answers prayer is addressed. Christine does not believe God has time to answer prayer. She believes God has removed Himself from the lives of the humans He created. As she learns about prayer, she must choose between waiting for God to answer or being impulsive and taking matters into her own hands. There are always consequences for not waiting on God. Finally, Christine struggles with finding meaning and purpose in life. Is there one big purpose for our lives? Why did God create us? Somewhere along the third time I rewrote this book, the first theme of being miserable or joyful in pain came to mind, but the others developed along with Christine’s character. This is the only book I have written by the “seat of my pants.” After this one, I learned how to plan my writing.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I have written two more books with the same setting and characters as Payne & Misery. I call the series Christine Sterling’s Golden Years. These books are cozy mysteries. The other two books are titled: The Dunn Deal and Parrish the Thought. I also wrote a children’s book titled: Sophia Sarah Madison Wright. This is a story I told my grandchildren about where happiness comes from. These three books are as yet unpublished. Currently, I am writing a totally different type of book, a romantic suspense, titled: Dying to Be Noticed. I am a bit over halfway through writing the latest book.

Tell us the story between finishing your first novel and finding a publisher.

As I mentioned, I rewrote Payne & Misery ten times. During the writing and rewriting, I attended several writers conferences at Mount Hermon (an excellent Christian conference each spring in California) and one held by the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I tried to sell the book many times, both through personal contact and sending out queries. Instead, I learned more about writing with each workshop and that would necessitate rewriting. Then I entered Payne & Misery in a contest sponsored by Westbow Press. The winner would be announced at the 2010 Orange County Christian Writers Conference. I attended that conference and learned several more writing “secrets.” The kind judges awarded Payne & Misery second place in their contest. One of the judges told me I should self-publish with Westbow if I didn’t find a traditional publisher soon. I had not considered this before. Westbow books are publish-on-demand. It is the self-publishing arm of Thomas Nelson. I asked her many questions, and what she said made sense, but I did not have the funds to pay for publishing, even with the discount awarded for second place.

Before I returned home, I visited two of my relatives. When I stood to leave, in both cases, without my speaking one word about my lack of funds, my dear loved ones offered me an envelope of cash to “invest in my writing.” When I counted the money, the combined total was precisely the amount I needed for Westbow Press. I knew for certain that God had provided for publication, so that is what I did.

What is your most difficult problem with writing at this time in your career?

The entire publication process is difficult today and takes a certain personality to navigate it. With the economy as it is and so much wonderful competition out there, it is understandable that making your writing stand out above the others would be challenging. Finding an agent has been very difficult and I do not have one yet. I have met agents at writing conferences and sent off queries without success. I fear it is because I am shy and do not sell myself well. Marketing my book proves to be a huge challenge, as well. I would like to have someone take over the selling and marketing aspects and allow me to just do the writing.



PAYNE & MISERY can be ordered from:

The publisher’s catalog at www.westbowpress.com


Catherine, thank you for stopping by and sharing with us. To have the possibility to receive a copy of Payne & Misery:

  • Leave a comment with your email (name at domain name dot com). 
  • To make it a little more fun, go to Catherine's web site or this blog post and find out something of interest that is different from all other comments about Catherine or one of her characters. 
  • Giveaway closes Sunday, January 2, 2011 at midnight (CST). 
  • Only US postal codes.
  • If you're reading this on Feedburner, Facebook, or Amazon please come to http://www.ajhawke.blogspot.com/ to leave your comments.


Anonymous said...

Loved the interview with author Catherine Leggitt. Good informative questions and answers. Payne & Misery sounds like a great book. I am going to order that now.

CarolNWong said...

Great interview and good to see that a book is tackling some very tough questions. I would love to read this book.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book...please enter me. Enjoyed the interview!

Debra E. Marvin said...

Interesting interview as always, A.J.
I love the premise of Catherine's book.

Congratulations on Payne & Misery!

Charlotte Kay said...

Another book giveaway, YEAH!!!!!!
Please enter me:)
chakasa58 at gmail dot com

Aik said...

I'd love to enter! I visited Catherine's website and found out that her mum called her Kitty Catherine!

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Jan Marie said...

I visited Catherine's website and read that her new novel features cats and an obituary writer.

I love the way the titles of the books are a play on words. This book sounds really interesting and I would love to win it.

Thanks for the opportunity!
Jan Marie


Jo said...

Great interview. This sounds like quite the book.


karenk said...

enjoyed this posting/interview...thanks for the opportunity to read this wonderful novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Pat Rowland said...

This sounds like a great book and different than any I've read. I will look forward to reading it.

I loved the interview piece. This is a very interesting author.

Anne Payne said...

I LOVED this interview! Molly the Border Collie, is a real dog AND a character dog in the Christine Series :)


Linda said...

What an interesting way to get into writing. You must have had some training??? Please enter me.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

She is married with 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

misskallie2000 said...

I went to Catherine's web site and blog and found out she was a turtle when her husband wanted to move.
I left a comment on blog.

Would love to win this wonderful book. Thanks for the opportunity to enter.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Amanda Stephan said...

I found it extremely interesting that Catherine wrote because of menopause symptoms. Amazing what can spur us to do what we do! Thanks for the interview ~ and the chance to win!

kjv1611as at gmail dot com

Jennifer said...

It was very interesting to read that Catherine was adopted at 1 week old and flew in a plane piloted by her new Dad!

Thank for the chance to win.


jmschwindt at cox dot net

by Pegg Thomas said...

I agree... writing is hard work! I'm learning that myself, and it's encouraging to hear that I'm not alone in that thought. Thanks for entering me for the book!

twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

"Kitty Catherine"...what a cute nickname. I loved the interview.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Judylynn said...

I like the fact that Brandilyn Collins is one of her favorite authors. Me, too!

Carman sent me! Please enter me in this giveaway - Thanks!


Meredith said...

I like that her main character's sidekick is a border collie!

meredithfl at gmail dot com
Carman sent me!

Catherine said...

Don't know who Carman is, but thanks for sending a few people to read the interview. Thanks to all of you who read and left comments. I really enjoyed reading what you had to say.

Amanda Stephan said...

Thank you Catherine, for the book ~ I look forward to reading it!

Thank you AJ for hosting this giveaway ~ you rock!


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I love the wind in my face, the open sky before me, the romance and flavor of the West, but, most of all, our loving and living God, who created it all. I love how He works out His plans in the realm of human events, which is His Story. I have been blessed with a gift: a compulsion to write Historical and present-day novels set in the American West that demonstrate His power to transform ordinary people into true heroes and heroines. I am just a scribe really. I find the joy of participating in the creation of inspirational fiction indescribable. May our Lord Jesus Christ receive all of the credit and be glorified.

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