• Amy Shannon

Featured Autor: Cathy Burnham Martin


Q: In one sentence, tell me something that describes you as a person?

A: Though I am a self-proclaimed “Jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none,” I am a powerful believer in claiming the positive in life and boosting the morale of others.

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

A: I have written 7 books, and all are published. However, I seem to always have a great many “sticks in the fire.” I have several partially written books. They get sidelined, as one jumps out and captures my time. Often, I have found myself wishing for a clone to help me get more work done! I fear I pressure myself, a bit like the White Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland.” Busy, busy, busy… too much to do and too little time. A dedicated foodie, I have also written several cookbooks, all with Keep It Super Simple recipes. 8 of them have been published, and a few are awaiting my attention to get wrapped up and finished.

Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.

A: The Bimbo Has More Brains will be next. While The Bimbo Has Brains, released February 1, 2017, focused primarily on relationships, the sequel is giving the relevant and irreverent treatment to politics, media mayhem, and more. I hope to have it wrapped and ready by this Autumn. But I also have a lot of requests for another cookbook, so I will see if I can sneak one of those in also.

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

A: Often a title comes to me long before I start a book. I file it under “Creative Thinking” with lots of other concepts. Once in a while, my working title for a book gets modified during the writing process, but that is unusual.

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”)do you think is the most interesting and why?

A: Since I primarily deal in the nonfiction realm, characters tend to be real people. I may change names, places, and dates to protect the guilty… and the innocent. Sometimes I even combine people into one character. I have a couple of novels in me, if I can ever get the time to get to them, and I have developed some of my primary characters already. Since I have always found reality to be funnier than fiction, as they say, I like to keep my characters as genuine and true to themselves as possible.

Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?

A: With so much drama in the world, I repeatedly find myself saying that we need to lighten up and not take ourselves so seriously. Even in my nonfiction work, I believe my category would be Reality Life Lessons. In fiction, I totally go for Dramedy. I like focusing on finding the light at the end of tunnels, and seeing the humor in our humanness along the way, despite the tragedies, horrific circumstances, and challenges that exist.

Q: Without quoting your back cover synopsis, tell me about the last book you published.

A: The Bimbo Has Brains stomps on stereotypes, dashes double standards, and offers real life experiences to help people feel less alone in challenging relationships, while building solid, loving relationships with the vital aspects of communication, multi-faceted intimacy, and genuine forgiveness. Yowza! And I do it with lots of humor in our humanness, too. I am big on helping people thrive, not just survive.

Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

A: I narrate various authors’ fiction and nonfiction books and am also a musical comedy actress who has performed on stage with comedian Adam Sandler, actor Dan Lauria, and director Alek Keshishian. I even once sang with the Beach Boys and the marvelous Marvelettes, shared a dressing room with the one and only Ella Fitzgerald, and emceed for the timeless crooner, Tony Bennett.

Q: Who is your favorite Author?

A: My all-time favorite author is Og Mandino, who wrote books including the best-selling The Greatest Salesman in the World. I loved his parable, story-telling style with deep, underlying messages. I was very blessed to have been able to meet and become friends with him and his wife, Bette. As a non-fiction fan, I also am particularly taken with Richard Lederer, best-selling author of Anguished English and dozens of other titles. Lederer turned wordsmithing into a fine art, and nobody does it better.

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

A: I have been particularly enthralled with Howard Zinn’s book, The People’s History of the United States. I like to read books with a highlighter in one hand, and this one gave me hundreds of items to research as I learned about our nation’s history from 180-degrees away from the history books.

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

A: My writing methodology depends if I am writing non-fiction or fiction. With fiction, my writing flows from some initial scenario and develops as I quickly scrawl. The only frustration with that is not being able to write as quickly as the thoughts zoom through my brain. With non-fiction, I tend to constantly jot random thoughts and scenarios, which I later group into categories and develop into an outline for further evolution.

Q: Why do you write?

A: I write because I can’t sing. (ha ha) The truth is that I realized that I’d been writing since I was a child. As an adult, I finally realized that most of my career path had centered on writing. Becoming an author enabled me to work from anywhere and everywhere, which I love.

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

A: I read my work many times before publication, but never afterwards. The exception is my cookbooks. I always keep a set of these handy little 5x8 paperbacks in our kitchen, and I often give them as gifts because my recipes are quick and easy to help anyone shine!

Q: What is your favorite type of music? Is there one genre (or song, band etc...) that brings out your creativeness more than others?

A: The bluesy guitar riffs of Stevie Ray Vaughan always make my creative juices sizzle. That said, I am always a sucker for sexy, new age Yanni compositions when I want to clear my mind. I also like to hear Rod Stewart sing. That makes me happy. Other times I opt for Bonnie Raitt, Frank Sinatra, or anything from classic Broadway.

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the synopsis that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

A: Each book is different. Sometimes the perfect title eludes me, and other times, I search for a central thread or theme to tie things together. It is always a challenge to boil months or years of research and work down to the minimal copy that fits on the back cover. That’s like coming up with your book’s “elevator speech,” except that you can’t rewrite it. Yikes! What’s to highlight and what’s to leave out?

Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

A: Follow your heart… make it matter, even if only to you.

#Martin

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Author Amy Shannon

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