s the organizer of The Orange County Writers Meetup Group, Russell Traughber knows that there's nothing like the story of one writer's long road to publication to entertain, enthrall and fire up other writers. Especially when that published writer is as talented and personable as Kathryn Jordan, who recently shared her experiences in the writing, publication and promotion of Hot Water with an enthusiastic Meetup crowd.
"Kathryn is the real deal," said Russell, who not only moderates the Meetup Group's twice-a-month critique sessions and special events, but frequently emails members regarding resources for writers, including thoughts about his own writer's journey.
"If there is such a thing as paying your dues, Kathryn has done it," he said. "That is why the evening was so special. We were able to celebrate with her and feel the joy she felt in being published by a royalty publisher."
Kathryn told the Meetup audience about spending 28 years as a high school English teacher in California and overseas, a job she loved. Yet she longed to make writing her career, and would rise at 4:00 each morning to get in three or four hours of writing before she went to school. Starting in 1981, Kathryn labored over three mainstream novels - what she called "smart women's fiction" - and a couple of them came pretty close to being published.
women at a book
"I got wonderful rejections," she recalled, "and I was brokenhearted and depressed. Finally, I decided to write something so sexy and fun and short that they couldn't turn it down."
And, you guessed it! Kathryn's agent sold Hot Water in just three weeks to The Berkley Publishing Group, a Penguin imprint.
Romantic, but not a romance novel and as steamy as erotic fiction, but with plenty of philosophy in the mix, Hot Water is about a woman's escape from her humdrum life, uniquely told from both the woman's and man's point of view. The story takes place over a single weekend when Julia, an attractive Minnesota housewife in her mid-forties, secretly flies to California, rents a red Lamborghini and checks in at a luxurious desert spa. Her expectations don't begin to measure up to what actually transpires during her rendezvous with William - also rented for the weekend - a darkly handsome graduate student in philosophy who is more than ten years her junior. As the book cover so aptly puts it, "When you flirt with a fantasy, you risk falling in love."
Kathryn spent eight months writing Hot Water, and the process was a major departure from her previous efforts.
"I broke out of something not just in the story and characters but in my writing style," she said. "This is character-based writing. The characters would take me where I didn't plan to go, and they always knew best."
Just before a press conference at the Weisman Center in Marshall, Texas
Unlike many writers, Kathryn doesn't do elaborate outlining. Nor does she go all the way through a story, a chapter or even a paragraph without editing as she goes. "I don't leave a paragraph until I think it's good."
Erotic fiction writer Susan Johnson has said, " Hot Water speaks to every woman's dream of reclaiming the sensual joys of life." The book also has been called "...a gloriously poetic novel..." and "...an intellectual romp for mind and body."
A year after publication and with her book still going strong, Kathryn now rises by 6:00 every morning to write so she can focus the rest of her day on the other half of a published writer's job - MARKETING. Not surprisingly, Kathryn is having the time of her life traveling all over the country to promote Hot Water.
in Marshall, Texas
According to Kathryn, "The bigger the publisher, the less they will do to promote your book. Most writers spend their whole advance on publicity."
The spa tie-in has been a natural for Hot Water, beginning with the book's launch party at the facility that inspired it, Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa in Desert Hot Springs, California. Other spa events have included La Costa, La Posada De Santa Fe, and the spas at both the Paris and Aladdin hotels in Las Vegas. Kathryn also does readings and book signings at women's retreats, lingerie house parties and that old standby, bookstores. One of her wildest events took place at the Hot Licks Barbecue in Bisbee, Arizona, where her readings from the book were interspersed with a lingerie fashion show.
Kathryn uses her desktop publishing skills to create fliers and other promotional materials and is always on the lookout for promotional event possibilities. Along with her stock of books, she carries Hot Water -imprinted coffee mugs and thong underwear to use as giveaways. Amid all the fun, every event is a book-selling event and a way to keep the word-of-mouth going. That word-of-mouth will soon be spreading en español as well, with last month's publication of the Spanish translation, Agua Caliente, by ViaMagna in Barcelona, Spain.
A Girlfriend Weekend,
a zany event with the
Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs
in Marshall, Texas
and on Saturday night
there was a "Hair Ball."
Retired from teaching for nearly three years, Kathryn is writing the sequel to Hot Water and working on several other projects. Through her hard work and perseverance, she is now living the writer's life she dreamed about. Lucky for her. Lucky for her readers.
Visit Kathryn Jordan's website at www.kathrynjordan.com. To learn more about The Orange County Writers Meetup Group or locate a Writers Meetup Group in your area, go to www.writers.meetup.com/10.
Diana J. Ewing is an award-winning freelance copywriter and public relations consultant, who has recently expanded her writing endeavors to include short stories and nonfiction humor. She won second place in WOW's first quarterly flash fiction contest. Diana lives in Laguna Niguel, California, with her husband, David, and their dog, Bogie.
Email Diana at firstname.lastname@example.org.