Writer Interview-Kathleen Berry

Having attended the TMCC Writers’ Conference since 2008, I’m pleased to welcome Kathleen Berry.

 Creative pursuit: Spirituality and paranormal nonfiction writer

Day job: Manager, TMCC Writers’ Conference, marketing manager for TMCC Workforce Development and Continuing Education and Washoe Community Education, plus manager for the Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series (offered through Washoe Community Education)

 How do you balance your creative pursuits with your day-to-day commitments?

Like most writers, I’m happiest when I’m crafting a story. Maintaining equilibrium (making a living, fulfilling my creative needs and enjoying time with loved ones) can be a challenge. Some days are easier than others. The trick, I’ve found, is to strive for balance, instead of demanding it always be present. When writing “A Reluctant Spirit: A True Tale of God, Ghosts and a Skeptical Christian,” I woke an hour and a half early on weekdays to work on the book and I’d write at least one Saturday a month. Now, as I’m building my platform and publishing a weekly blog, “God, Ghosts and Gut Instincts,” I make sure I write at least twice a week, and then dedicate time to the less enjoyable tasks such as researching agents/publishers, exploring various marketing strategies and scheduling myself for speaking engagements.

 My breakthrough came when…

The turning point in my writing career came when I gave up fiction for creative nonfiction. Previously, I’d found solace in creating characters that I could control (for the most part). But when I attempted to fictionalize my experience as the impartial observer with a television news crew who spent the night in the haunted Goldfield Hotel, I suffered extreme writer’s block. No matter how I changed the names, characters and setting, I couldn’t progress beyond the first chapter.  It took more than a year struggling with fictional prose before I made the decision to tell my story as honestly as I could. At that point, the book came together almost magically—the sights, scents and sensations took me back to that night and words flowed from my brain into my fingers so quickly I barely kept up with the stream of thought.

 What’s next?

My intuition is leading me to help others (no matter their religious beliefs) forge a stronger relationship with the Great I Am. For now, I’m concentrating on my goal of securing a contract with a traditional publisher. I scratch my way over each obstacle, so that one day I will succeed. Through managing the TMCC Writers’ Conference, I’m firmly convinced that those who work to develop their craft will succeed only if they are tenacious in marketing. Publishers want authors who will do what needs to be done. So, for now, I’m writing the blog, building my platform and waiting for inspiration on what the topic of my next book will be.

 My favorite journey.

One day, this book will be my favorite journey, but as my comfort level about sharing my story evolves, it’s still in my future.

So I’ll share an amazing trip I took in 1989 exploring Tanzania’s Serengeti Plain. When I first arrived there, I was unimpressed by the arid, brown grasslands. But in the course of 24 hours, its golden savanna, abundant wildlife and authentic people connected me with my primal side. I felt one with the world as I’d watched lion cubs play feet away from me or glimpsed Masai warriors carrying spears and running through desolate reaches in search of a meal. I met people from all walks of life: a Syrian with whom I corresponded about our differing faiths, a Tanzanian boy who grew up to be a safari tour leader (we were reunited through Facebook) and many others. Whether we live in a grass/mud hut or in a metropolitan city, we have so much in common with each other and I’ve found that to be quite affirming.

Website and blog:   www.kathleenberry.com

Facebook author page:    www.facebook.com/kathleenberryauthor

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