Made It Moment: Cathi Stoler
In many ways, writing is a leap into the abyss, and a study in audacity. I mean, come on. What allows little old us to think that by dint of sheer slashes and dots on a page, we can entice a reader to enter a world we have completely made up? Yet it happens. Time and time again, a little bit of magic in our everyday life. The ability to do this thing is a mystery–at least to me–but what certain writers have the ability to drill down to is how we find the faith to try and do it. To think that we can write a book. Cathi Stoler knows exactly what led her to dare such a feat, and it became her Made It Moment.
My “Made It Moment” came sitting at desk in an adult education course at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. The course, entitled “How To Overcome Your Fear of Writing Your Novel”, had gotten my attention when I read the description in the school’s brochure and I convinced myself now was the right time to pursue a dream I’d had for many years.
I’d been a voracious reader since I was a very little girl and had read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys story I could get my hands on. As I grew older, I graduated to Ian Fleming, Sue Grafton, Joy Fielding, James Patterson, Michael Connolly and many other mystery/suspense writers, always wondering if maybe I could write a book of my own.
In my day job, I was already a writer—an advertising copywriter with many years of experience with award winning work for well-known brands. But, I realized that writing a :30 second TV commercial was a whole lot different than writing a 70,000+ word book. I didn’t know if I had it in me or if what I’d write would be any good.
So, I got my courage up and enrolled in the course. Our instructor, Alyson Richman, a wonderful writer of historical fiction, gave us an assignment each week. She’d read the work at home and pick a few pieces to share with us at the next session and class members would critique them. When she chose the first chapter of my novel to read, I told myself this was it: if it didn’t go well–if they hated it–I’d forget about writing a mystery and stick with reading them instead.
Fortunately, my classmates liked the work very much and wanted to see more. And while I know that the class’ opinion probably shouldn’t have mattered that much, it did. It gave me the encouragement to go on and complete my first novel, and since then, several others. I look back on that class and my fellow writers, two of whom became good friends and writing group cohorts, and know I would never have gotten this far without them.
Cathi Stoler’s mysteries feature P.I. Helen McCorkendale and magazine editor, Laurel Imperiole. Her first, Telling Lies, takes on the subject of stolen Nazi art. Other books in the series include, Keeping Secrets, which delves into the subject of hidden identity and The Hard Way, a story of International diamond theft. She has also published a novella, Nick of Time, and several short stories including Magda, in Criminal Element’s Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble and Out of Luck, featured in the Sisters in Crime Anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices. Her story, Fatal Flaw, published at Beat to A Pulp was a finalist for the Derringer for Best Short Story. Cathi is a member of Mystery Writers of America, as well as Sisters in Crime and posts at the womenofmystery.net blog.
Cathi, You shared a wonderful story, and thank you. I guess we never know what’s going to encourage us to keep things going. I’m going to add you to my TBR list.
Comment by Marja McGraw — April 8, 2014 @ 1:03 pm
What a wonderful start to writing, having a chapter read out and having it well received. Congratulations on your Made It Moment and I can see you will have had and will have, many more. Good luck and thanks for sharing this with us and thanks Jenny
Comment by Jane Risdon — April 8, 2014 @ 2:02 pm
Cheers to your bravery, Cathi! What a great Made it Moment
Comment by Windy Lynn Harris — April 8, 2014 @ 7:02 pm
Congratulations Cathi! I’m glad you had the encouragement to pursue your dream. and wish you continued success. Writing is a lonely, but enjoyabe occupation and we need others to refresh us. I was a member of sisters in crime and MWA, but chapters disolved in my area.
I can hardly wait to read your work!
While enrolled in a creative writing course, I received encouragement from the instructor and my critique group to submit my first book to publishers. After a multitude of rejections, the first of my four books in the Dr Cory Cohen Mystery Series was published by a small publisher in 1999. Curiously, our titles are similiar.
I wish you continued success. Perhaps one day we’ll meet at the yearly MWA.
Comment by Sandra Ceren — April 8, 2014 @ 9:38 pm
I believe we can all be writers and each of us has at least one wonderful book to write. Congrats on your work and effort to create your book.
Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — April 9, 2014 @ 3:11 pm
Marja, Jane, Windy, Sandra and Jacqueline,
Thank you all for your wonderful comments and enthusiastic responses to my Made It Moment.
I love writing and it is so nice when someone responds favorably to your work and makes you want to continue.
Comment by Cathi Stoler — April 9, 2014 @ 6:05 pm