“Writing is a solitary task; it is a hobby for most of us, it is funny and smooth, other times writing is like a horror, getting a smooth writing experience need a lot of patience, time and spirit to keep performing. During hard times we strive to search for an answer here and there, on all topics and LIFE”
Catherine Townsend-Lyon is a Best Selling Author of The Kodel Publishing Group with her shocking debut memoir titled; “Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” Catherine’s Memoir is both in-depth and raw as she takes readers on a journey of many important topics that ‘touched’ her life, starting as a little girl into adulthood.
She had taken a dark path, trying to elude the past childhood pain and traumatic events. She began using gambling as a coping skill and escape into a “dream world” to forget, if only for a few hours from the haunting memories of her childhood sexual abuse, parental verbal and physical abuse, and lived with undiagnosed mental/emotional illness for years. Shaping the “perfect storm, she became addicted to gambling with alcohol abuse. So, something like gambling to be for fun and entertainment became her worst nightmare and almost took her life, twice!
Now in recovery eleven plus years, Catherine has become well-known in the addiction/recovery communities, and is a loud advocate of gambling addiction, mental health, and the expansion of Indian Casinos, State Lottery offerings, and Internet gambling venues that needs to stop across America.
Catherine’s featured in many media and recovery publications like Columbia University’s Media Release through the 2×2 Project ~ Gambling With America’s Health. And most recently interviewed for Time/ Magazine online article titled “Addicted To Anticipation” She is a former writer and columnist for “InRecovery Magazine” and a freelance writer for Keys To Recovery newspaper and column “Quit To Win.”
She is also an “Expert Gambling Recovery Blogger” for “Addictionland” of Founder/Author, Cate Stevens along with other recovery experts along with other recovery experts like Christopher Lawford Kennedy and Tommy Rosen.
Catherine lives in Arizona and So. Oregon. She is married to her husband for 26 years. She is a ‘Cat Lover’ and has three, Princess, Boots, and Simon Peter.She enjoys reading, cooking, gardening, and swimming. She owns an online business called: “Lyon Media, Book Promos, and Literary Consulting.”
Why did you write and disclose personal family experiences? Were you afraid of backlash or judgment from family and others?
Well, I felt that is what writing a memoir is all about. Since my book is about my life of many topics including gambling addiction and recovery, I wanted readers to have an in-depth view of how my family life was growing up can later become some of the roots to WHY some may turn to addiction in the first place.
I, nor many do not grow up in an “angelic” family dynamic. Some grow up in a dysfunctional or abusive situations. That was some of my experience, and later became added “fuel” to my addiction. I wanted to “set the back story” so to speak so readers had an understanding of how many of us may turn to addictions instead of knowing there are places we can get help like through counseling or therapy when your “past comes back later in life haunting you.”
As far as backlash, family needs to understand this memoir is not about them, it about how I was affected by how I was raised and disciplined. How I was also sexually abused as a little girl, and I stuffed that way for years without my parents knowing until adulthood. You will have to read my book to learn how all that turned out. I had to brave enough to share the good, the bad, and all the ugly to others who did or are going through these same issues, if you are going to write a memoir, you can not worry of backlash. I am trying to help others through my book. For me, that is what I focused on.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
Not really. My first book came very easy for me. And believe or not I hand wrote the memoir in 6 1/2 spiral notebooks by hand! At that time, I was not writing a book, I was writing for myself to heal and forgive myself and to see all that gambling addiction and alcohol abuse had taken from my life. The book part and becoming published happened a year later as “divine intervention” I always say.
I am almost done with book two, but I am also co-writing another memoir, so it will release before mine. I did release a new compilation book with several other others and Dr. Rev. Kevin Coughlin in Dec. 2017 titled; “TEN THE HARD WAY: True Stories of Addiction and Recovery” and Thank goodness I have an exceptional editor, as my own second book is also hand written! The only weird thing, I love writing when it’s raining. But I am not an outline or draft type of writer. I just let the words flow out of me onto paper and by the seat of my pants!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I can thankfully say no to this question. One of the best pieces of advice I had received from another writer was, “write what you know.”
Unfortunately, I know too much about gambling addiction, recovery, mental health challenges, and childhood trauma. All these topics have ‘touched’ my life and I advocate about them passionately …
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
I pass on what was told to me in the above answer “write what you know” or write what you “feel passionate about.” If you love animals? Write an animal children’s book. If you have an open imagination? Write a thriller or mystery. An action or adventure story. I feel funny giving other aspiring writers and authors advice. I am a book promoter for many fine authors of all genres as well, so one piece of advice I can give to first-time authors? Your book takes many hours, days, and months to promote. Book sales and book reviews will not happen overnight, so don’t give up or get discouraged. KEEP writing and keep promoting your books!
“I am a writer and published author by accident” ~Author, Catherine Lyon
What are your current/future projects?
I am currently co-writing with former NFL pro from the Denver Broncos, Mr. Vance Johnson. We writing his story/memoir and legacy. It has been an amazing experience thus far. My second book is almost complete and will be a follow-up to my memoir. It will be serious, have musings, and ramblings about sharing more of my mental health and childhood trauma side of things and how to “Let The Shit Go!” … Lol.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I actually started my current book out with “the reasons how and why” I came to start writing in the first place. It was about a suicide of a woman I read about in our local newspaper when I lived in So. Oregon all year round. But, no spoilers here. LOL.
You’ll need to read my book titled; ‘Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat,’ which is now listed here on “Author Shout” and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million.
Again, I write what I know…. Lol. Balance is a challenge for me to fit my own writing time in as I book promote for many other authors and writing another book with someone. It is why it has taken me MANY years to get my next book done and published. So I am still a “two book wonder” at this point.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
Well, we all know indie and self-published authors are changing the landscape of the “traditional” way authors get published these days. You no longer have to be published by one of the big publishing houses anymore. Now, that’s not to say there are some self-published or indie books that may not be very appealing. (No offense to authors). As I have read a few myself and the authors are no writers, LOL.
However, there are awesome writers and authors producing some fantastic written works and it is refreshing to see that all authors can now be noticed and praised for work well done! That is part of the change with being able to self-publish. I have promoted and worked with authors that were picked up and offered publishing contracts, so the traditional publishing houses are finding many good writers and authors. That is a great thing.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
My current book was picked up by a publishing firm. But my publisher is a smaller independent publisher, however, I received an awesome offer when it came to my royalty share. The Kodel Group, Steve Laible is more like a “self-publish” helper. I had an editor and book cover designer for my current book already, so they just did my format, typesetting, and upload through Amazon’s Create Space for the paperback, and KDP for my e-book.
Going this route was the least expensive way to publish. Now most publishers won’t do any book promoting, marketing for authors except maybe send out a press release about the new book, so authors Beware and do your reseach of publishers! …And be ready to promote your books on your own. I do all my own book promoting throughout social media, PR releases, and use a few places that promote for me in mainstream media and get my books into bookstores. Authors can promote for free at many book sites or place low-cost book ads like right here on Author Shout.
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?
Yes. The only change or difference that I made was to my book cover. I have two different covers that are the same but different in the colors. My e-book cover has different colors then the paperback as I wanted my e-book cover to have more vibrant Las Vegas catching colors. The book cover designer took car of it.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
Being a person who maintains recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol for a little over eleven years now, publishing my book was my way of helping others with the same issues and problems as I have and was the only way I knew how to help others by sharing my voice and my story to give others HOPE that they to can recover from this cunning and devastating addiction known as gambling addiction.
Many blessings and doors have opened for me to share my voice and have a platform to help inform, educate, and raise awareness of addicted and problem gambling. I want those who have never been touched by addictions have more understanding, compassion, and empathy for those who suffer. The opportunities for writing recovery articles, writing with others, and for many publications has been 10 fold! Most have come from people seeing and reading my book, an interview, or hearing me on a radio show or podcast.
I had for two years became a recovery columnist for a premier magazine called; “In Recovery Magazine.” My column was called; “The Author’s Cafe.” I am also a writer for a recovery newspaper out of So. California called; “Keys To Recovery Newspaper” and I am an expert gambling addiction and recovery blogger on “Addictionland.” That is just the tip of the iceberg as I have a few more, but I am “blessed, humbled and thankful” for all the opportunities that have come my way. These offerings help keep me in recovery as well.
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?
Now this question is an easy answer! Lol. Layer low-cost book ads for your books on several places like right here on Author Shout.
Since I market, promote, and advertise books for authors for living and as my online business, I have a page of what I offer to authors and writers in promoting and marketing their books and I set up all their social media accounts as well. The details are on my website: “Lyon Media, Book Promotions, and Literary Consulting.”
It is my business and home of “Cat Lyon’s Reading and Writing Den.”
I began my online business in order to help new authors learn ‘how and where’ to promote their books. Many just hire me to do it for them so they can just focus on writing more books. I place layered low-cost book ads and maybe run for them a E-book promotion. There is no shortage of authors needing help as they continue to write more books or meet the publishing deadlines, and why among other reasons they hire me to promote their books for them.
My number one valuable tip? Layer your book ads when your book first releases. Do a Beta Reader program to reviews prior to release like on NetGalley. That way you will find your readership. Use many book promo sites like Awesomegang.com or Bookgoodies.net . . . Just a couple of my other “go to places.”
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
My current book is a Memoir. About my life with many topics discussed throughout which I mentioned above.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
I carry a spiral notebook or my laptop with me everywhere I go!
How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
Yes. My writing has evolved so much since I wrote my first book. I feel the more you write, the better you get. Now that I am writing more as a profession as well, I have taken some webinars and use writing software to make sure I continue to become a more seasoned writer.
I would hope writing my book, writing and sharing on my recovery blog where I continue to write my recovery journey is helping others. We just never know who our story will touch or help. I wanted others who still suffer or are stuck in the “cycle” of gambling addiction that ‘Suicide Is Not An Option to Stop Gambling Addiction. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
Like the woman I read about in my local newspaper. And like my own two failed suicide attempts when I was deep in my addiction. Suicide is never the answer.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
As a reader myself, page count doesn’t matter. The book cover is also part of showcasing your book, so it needs to grab the reader. Same goes with the book title. The content of a book is what we as writer offer up to the reader. If your content and story doesn’t keep a reader interested in the first chapter, they might feel some “buyers remorse.” That won’t bode well for future books you publish.
Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?
Yes, I do feel a press release is very important and has value. Many first time authors can not afford mainstream advertising or hire a PR firm. So a press release sent out through PR websites is a good way to let readers and mainstream media know about your book releasing. I do them for my book promoting clients as some PR websites let you send a couple out for free.
A few I like and use are NPR, PR Web and PRNewswire are some good ones. I get some good results in books sales and book reviews.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
Of course, there is value to book reviews for many reasons. Readers who shop for books lets say on Amazon, they look and read reviews before they buy a book and see its ranking. I know as a reader I do. And, Amazon emails me when someone leaves a review for my book or reads a review I have placed. It tells me it helped them decide to purchase.
Reviews on Amazon also helps your books rankings among other books in your same genre. Rankings tell authors how our books sell and compare to other books sold on Amazon. When a reader takes the time to write a review after they read my memoir, I use that as well if they leave suggestions about improving my craft as a writer.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
A message of HOPE to others who suffer from addiction of any kind. We can recover no matter how bad or how far addiction has taken you. We all have that tiny sliver of light within us to turn our lives around if we want it bad enough.
Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?
The Internet has changed not only the landscape of how authors can easily promote their books throughout social media, but the Internet has also changed how people can find information to get help from addiction and recovery support.
As a book promoter as my in-home business, the Internet has allowed me to work from home and make an income as I have agoraphobia and mood disorder. It has changed the way we do many things for school, work, and not just the book selling and publishing industry.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Yes, I read every review I get. I can tell you my current has averaged from Amazon’s Rate scale 1-5, my book is still at 4.8 out of 5 stars. So I must have done something right as a writer. So I have not experienced or had to deal with a bad book review …. Yet. Lol.
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
Taking on paid writing jobs has boosted my self-confidence as a writer. That also helped me get the offer to be a columnist at “In Recovery Magazine.” And why I write for several other addiction/recovery publications. For me, it is two-fold. I become a better writer and I have great platforms to showcase my writing while helping others recover.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
Since my book is a memoir, all the people are real, and I only changed a few of the real names of persons I wrote about as I did not get permission to use their real names.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
I really can’t answer this directly as my book was written very unconventional. When I was writing at the time, I wasn’t writing a book. That all happened later on.
I do however recommend using a writing aide software which I do use.
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?
I am really boring in this area. I really didn’t enjoy reading until later in adulthood. I wasn’t a “Catcher In The Rye” kind of reader. I enjoyed more contemporary reads by Stephen King and Nora Roberts. However, as a teen, I did love writing poems but never thought much about the “writing” aspect of it.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
All of the above. Especially for therapy and a recovery outlet.
Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?
None. Seriously. Just making sure my facts and stats were correct.
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?
God created editors for a reason. Lol. My editor was Julie Hall. She worked for a local newspaper in Grants Pass, Oregon. She isn’t an editor by profession. But she edits and proofread for the newspaper. She had taken my six 1/2 notebooks and performed “magic.” Then she sent the first 50 pages to a publisher friend of hers, and that is how my book made it to being published. My publisher seen the recovery value of my memoir and knew it would it help others and hopefully bring a “Silent Underground Addiction” to light.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
Cost. Traditional publishing can be very expensive. And many first-time authors may not be able to afford it. That is where self-publishing comes in. There are several good places who offer self-publish services low-cost or even free. Amazon’s Create Space, KDP, and Smashwords are just a few. It is heart-breaking but there isn’t any value of even sending your manuscript to the big publishing houses either as most never get in front of a live person. Very sad.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
Recovery and helping others is what inspires me to write. We who maintain recovery know a persons story can be a powerful tool to help others looking to reach out and enter treatment or recovery. If I can help others by sharing my story through words and my experiences? That makes me happy.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
No. I used who my publisher had at the time. She did a good job.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
Since I do write for several publications, and for myself, coming up with new topics to write about can be a challenge. Writing is very freeing to me. I enjoy it and hope to continue writing and publishing more books to help others maintaining recovery and for readers to enjoy.
Lastly, do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
All of the above. Especially for therapy and a source of stress release.
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