Catharine Bramkamp is a woman of many talents, and one of those talents is definitely writing. A prolific author, she has published numerous books (The Real Estate Diva Mysteries, Death Revokes the Offer, Time Is of the Essence, In Good Faith, A 380 Degree View, Don’t Write Like You Talk, The Cheap Retreat Workbook, and Ammonia Sunrise) and is writing a new one, Trash Out. When the U.S. economy crashed a few years ago, Catharine, a California-based Realtor, turned to writing and coaching other authors as a full-time occupation. Here is what she says about her own books and why she writes.
The Real Estate Diva Mysteries Author Catharine Bramkamp Talks About Writing
When and why did you begin writing?
I am one of those writers who started writing and creating stories as soon as I could manipulate a pencil. I love writing poetry, that was my first success in publication and the books came much, much later. I think I’m a typical author in that I have to write, it’s a vocation and something I will always do because I need those words to spill out!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I published my first poems as a teenager, I thought wow, this can be real. Then I won first prize in a district writing contest for a poem and that clinched the deal. Much to my parent’s distress, I majored in English in college, then earned my MA in creative writing. Loved every minute!
What books have most influenced your life most?
All books! I am a voracious reader! I loved mysteries as soon as I could understand them. So all the Nancy Drew books, the color series by John D. MacDonald (I was probably too young to read them, but I did.) Every book written by Elizabeth Peters, Joan Hess. Then the “important” writers – TS Eliot, Jack Kerouac, Jack London, Virginia Woolf, Louisa May Alcott.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor and why?
I am a big fan of Natalie Goldberg, I have read everything she’s written, studied her during my time earning my MA in creative writing and I met her at a book signing. She is a new writer’s dream: encouraging, real and very, very Zen.
Tell us your latest news about a recent book or success in marketing?
I’m very excited about the Newbie Writer’s Podcast. My partner Damien Boath and I have recorded 40 episodes – available for free download on ITunes. Our goal is to discuss writing and technique without being boring. To that end we book interesting guests, we feature writing prompts, bring out your dead and Damien’s Australian wit. I’m very pleased with the program.
What book are you reading now?
1,000 years of Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke, Poems by Kay Ryan and Billy Collins. In Deep Voodoo by Stephanie Bond, Creating Time by Marney Makridakis, Mudbound (for my book club, I can’t say I loved it)
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I have made many new book discoveries but they end up being established authors after all. But I have subscribed to newsletters that help new authors promote their work, so I am looking forward to exposure to new and exciting authors.
What are your current projects?
I am editing 34 poems after a rush of writing a poem a day for 60 days, 34 of the 87 poems were good enough to warrant edits. And I am finishing up Trash Out, the fifth Real Estate Diva Mystery for publication and I am slowing inching towards my next novel.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
I would add to my current book series, I think I can spend more time describing the scenery and give more background of the characters.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Feeling like it’s good enough. And of course, writing isn’t half as difficult as marketing the finished books!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about his/her work?
I adore Elizabeth Peters, she writes about Egypt and her character Amelia Peabody is the perfect irascible Victorian lady. There is nothing to dislike about Peter’s work.
What was the hardest part of writing?
Marketing and selling my books. Like many of us, I’d rather write and leave the marketing to someone else – but that is not the reality for writers, so we must suck it up and promote. Ewwww.
What has writing taught you?
Patience, confidence and vocabulary skills.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you to all the readers who visit my blog – thank you to our Newbie Writer Podcast listeners, and thank you for all the readers of the Real Estate Diva Series. Hang in there, the big wedding is coming in Trash Out.
What is your writer life philosophy?
“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” — Émile Zola It’s better to take the picture than have the picture taken.
What is the wisest thing anyone has said to you?
Talent doesn’t matter as much as hard work.
What has been the most surprising thing you learned from creating your books?
I never believed that characters spoke to the author, that they did things and said things the author didn’t even intend. That is, until Allison Little popped into my head and refused to leave me alone until I told her story. Feel a little crazy? That’s because you’re a writer.
Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer?
Love your work. You may not get rich, you probably won’t get rich, but if this is the right path for you, you won’t care, all you’ll want to do is write, to hold the title as writer and be that dream. If you dream of being a writer – write.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read, read, read. Fall in love with your genre. Read everything in your genre. Collect books, buy books from other authors, support the system. Then, when you toss down the 678th book and say “I can do better than that,” then it’s time to try.
If you’d like to learn more about Catharine Bramkamp, check out her website: www.YourBookStartsHere.com.
To find her podcasts, go to: www.NewbieWriters.com
You can also request to sign up for her monthly newsletter (Bramkamp@yahoo.com) and follow her on Twitter, @cbramkamp
About the Author: A social media marketer and trainer in Sonoma County, Frances Caballo has 22 years of communications experience. She helps writers, businesses and nonprofits with their social media and public relations needs. Presently, she is the Social Media Editor and Board Vice President for Redwood Writers, the largest branch of the California Writers Club, and the Director of the Sonoma County Book Festival. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.