Catherine M. Wilson, Author of the Trilogy When Women Were Warriors

Catherine Wilson, When Women Were Warriors—Book I: The Warrior's Path

Book I: The Warrior’s Path

It’s not often that I write a book review and start it with a food suggestion, but I’m doing it here: begin the When Women Were Warriors trilogy with a mug of the best tea you can find in your city or the thickest stew to be had, something like what Wilson’s young warrior Tamras would have enjoyed after a long day in the fields. Wrap yourself in the warmest blanket you can find and settle in to your armchair or bed. Get comfortable; you’re going away with Catherine M. Wilson for a while, as long as you want. I promise—you’ll want to go (and you’ll be in good company: Grammy Award winner Janis Ian is also a fan, and she’ll soon be narrating the first book, The Warrior’s Path).

When Women Were Warriors is an epic trilogy set in Bronze Age Britain. Young Tamras leaves behind the loving shelter of her warrior mother’s house to become an apprentice in the house of Lady Merin. Tamras is put in service to the mysterious warrior Maara and a careful friendship eventually grows into love. There’s Sparrow, the slave turned apprentice, who knows the pain of loss, and the wise woman Namet who has watched, and been partially responsible, for war in the name of love.

While love is a main theme in the books and the developing relationship between Tamras and Maara is at the core of the novels, the When Women Were Warriors series is not, at its heart, a romance. Make no mistake, this is an epic tale of a hero’s journey, dividing Tamras’ quest to become a warrior into three books: The Warrior’s Path, A Journey of the Heart, and A Hero’s Tale. No, these books aren’t exactly romances, but in Wilson’s world, the true warrior’s heart is one that is able to feel and experience love—of lover and friends, of self, and of the world itself: “The survival of love in the world is entirely our responsibility,” and it makes perfect sense that the warrior Tamras, who fights to be true to her heart, speaks those lines in the final book A Hero’s Tale, reminding us that all is connected.

Catherine Wilson, When Women Were Warriors—Book II: A Journey of the Heart

Book II: A Journey of the Heart

Catherine M. Wilson’s writing is both epic and elegant. She spins a tale that I would have devoured as an adventure-starved teenager longing for stories of complex and philosophical female warriors. For example, in the second book, A Journey of the Heart, Lady Merin’s warriors defend their land from the northern tribes. Tamras, new to battle and trained, not with a sword, but in the use of a bow and arrow, saves Maara by shooting and killing an enemy chieftain. Of course, in any hero’s tale, the first kill is a chance for greater knowledge about the enemy and about oneself, but in Wilson’s capable hands, the knowledge gained by Tamras comes through the awareness of personal power. “He will come to you in dreams,” Maara tells Tamras of the man she killed, “and when you meet him face to face, don’t be afraid to speak to him. Tell him that though you are young and strong, your spirit is large and powerful. Tell him it was no disgrace to be defeated by someone so powerful. Then, tell him to leave you in peace.” Tamras’ lesson is in personal power, in trusting her connection to her own honest self and inner wisdom. Again and again in the books, she struggles to hear herself clearly and to do what her inner self dictates.

Tamras is a clearly written character, often utterly self-aware, innocent yet brave, and we’re treated to her growth; with apologies to James Joyce, this is Portrait of the Warrior as a Young Woman. Wilson gives us intense battle scenes and heartbreaking betrayal, but she also treats us to what any avid reader longs for: experiencing everyday life with a trusted character. Through Tamras, we learn the rhythms of days in Lady Merin’s house and, we can see the fine details, like needlework running through this brilliant tapestry of story: the smell of freshly baked bread from the kitchen, the green of the willow tree under which one can make love, the heft of a carved bow and arrow against one’s back.

Catherine Wilson, When Women Were Warriors—Book III: A Hero's Tale

Book III: A Hero’s Tale

The women, as the title of the series suggests, are entirely front and center in Wilson’s gorgeous, well-constructed series. They are queens, warriors, apprentices, wise women and mothers. Above all, they are fully human—complex and flawed and philosophical. Set in a matrilineal society, the women in the books move in a world made up almost entirely of female power and female relationships: Tamras’ mother was a warrior, as was her mother before her; at several times in The Warrior’s Path, Tamras retells her mother’s tales to Maara and, as readers, we’re treated to what would have been an oral tradition within the narrative; the myths and legends in the first book begin with, not, once upon a time, but instead an opening that hints at change: when women were warriors. The language suggests that there will one day come a time when that power will shift and women will no longer be warriors in a matrilineal society.

Wonderfully feminist, unabashedly lesbian, and beautifully epic, the When Women Were Warriors books are precious gems that should be on the bookshelves of every thinking woman. They remind us of our strength, power, and courage—and of course, the depths of our honest hearts. 

– Marissa Cohen, author of CancerLand

Lise Quintana, Editor in Chief of Lunch Ticket, spoke to Catherine at her home deep in the woods of Northern California.

Catherine M. Wilson

Catherine M. Wilson  photo by Carolyn Donaldson

Lise Quintana: First, run down your list of professional careers for me.

Catherine M. Wilson: I was a professional student for many years, although, not managing to complete a degree until I was almost fifty.

LQ: What did you take your degree in?

CMW: Computer science. Smartest thing I ever did. Before that I was an anti-war protester, a civil-rights-movement person, women’s movement, gay pride, of course. My first career, I was a broadcast engineer—I was the third woman hired by a major market in San Francisco. That was in the 1970s. I did that because I wanted a job where they would have to pay me and promote me according to my job title and seniority. That was the only thing that mattered in a union job.

After three years of that, I quit to go into the motorcycle business with a partner, and then my partner and I split up. So then I got another broadcast engineering job in Monterey, during which time I started buying and rehabbing old houses. And I had a mobile detail business myself, and I got to be in my 40s and realized that my body was not going to hold up working three jobs doing heavy construction, so I went back to college at UC Santa Cruz. Got a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in computer science.

I was recruited right out of school by a startup in Scotts Valley called NetCarta in 1996, the very early days of the Internet. The guy who had founded the company was working on viral networking, on spiders: he was Google before Google existed. But the crazy venture capitalists wanted their money and they sold it after two years for $1 million.

But I had already started writing my book. So I thought that I would just take six months or a year off and finish the book, then go back to work. Ten years later, I finished the book.

LQ: Did you always want to be an author?

CMW: Absolutely. I knew I was going to be an author, because of my mother. My mother was a book person. Writers were the most important people in the world. That was the most important job in the world. You can keep your doctors and your lawyers. Writers, that was where it was at.

Writers were the most important people in the world. That was the most important job in the world.

LQ: Who were your favorite writers growing up?

CMW: I liked the classics, I liked the Brontës, I liked Jane Austen. When my mother died, I couldn’t count the number of books in her house. I had access to a very large library. One book that I read when I was a teenager that profoundly influenced me was Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, a British writer who lived through World War I and lost most of the men in her family, including her fiancé. So that’s what I was reading when I was a kid.

LQ: What sparked the story of When Women Were Warriors

CMW: My mother was a Greek major. I was not brought up on fairy tales; I was brought up on the Greek myths. My mother’s family was from Maryland, and her father’s best friend had a wife who was the daughter of a plantation owner in Virginia. And this woman had been given a slave when they were both five years old. The slave girl, whose name was Margaret Gibson, sat next to her mistress while she was being tutored. She was privately tutored, given a classical education. As a result, this Ms. Gibson was fluent in classical Greek, Latin, French and English, because she sat next to this woman. When my mother and her family would go and visit, children and servants sat in the kitchen, so my mother sat in the kitchen with Ms. Gibson and she was told the story of the Iliad and the Odyssey and all the myths from a servant, who was able to read it to her in the original Greek. Needless to say, I grew up hearing the story of the Iliad and the Odyssey.

As I grew up in the 1950s, I kept looking for the story that said, “Once upon a time, a woman went out to seek her fortune” and there weren’t any. I always knew that the first book I ever wrote was going to be about that.

LQ: How long did it take you to get from the first germ of the story to when you started writing?

CMW: I started writing first. Oddly enough, I started writing fan fiction. It’s a wonderful way to find out if you have any talent whatsoever, because in fan fiction, you already have characters, you have your setting, and you can work with that and see if you have a story in you. I started posting Xena fan fiction. Two people were attracted by it: one was a woman who had been traditionally published and who thought that I showed promise, and another would later become my friend and editor, who also thought my writing was quite good. I wrote it from the point of view of the Xena characters. And then I started to think that they would go on from there and something would happen. But I realized that they were two different people. And I had to go back and start from the beginning because I had started in the middle. So I joined a writers’ group, and I took about 20 to 25 runs at it. Once I had done that—once I actually got the story started—then things seemed to go of themselves.

LQ: You chose to self-publish the books and to make them a trilogy rather then one very long book. Tell me about that choice and what led up to it.

CMW: I thought I was going to take six months to finish the book and it kept getting longer and longer. I was starting to get worried because I have studied traditional publishing. The ideal book by a new author is something that is a hot topic right now, is under 200 pages, and has some kind of platform. I had none of those things.

Several of the people in the writers’ group said, “You could make a trilogy out of it.” I could, except that I didn’t have three separate arcs. This is a classic hero’s journey, and you don’t rip a story like that into three pieces. But then I remembered Lord of the Rings. However, I was not about to publish the first book by itself, because you just piss people off. They come to the end of the book, and they go, “Where’s the rest of the story?” In fact, if you read the reviews of Book I (The Warrior’s Path), that’s what people complain of. Ripping it into three pieces was completely a marketing decision. I just received Hild by Nicola Griffith who’s been a published author for 20 years. She could get away with a 600-page novel.

When I was about five or six years into the process, I started to get worried because, for one thing, I was financing this myself; I wasn’t working a day job. I had retirement money saved up and I had money left over from my inheritance. I could envision myself at the end of this process having an unpublishable book and no visible means of support. I had been subscribing to a blog by a woman who used to review for The Chronicle. I sent her the first 100 pages, and her response was, “Take the sex out of the first part and market it to 10-year-olds.” She also told me that no editor, publisher or agent would ask to see a manuscript like this. Well, it was true. I queried 88 agents, and no one asked for the manuscript. I was honest with them. I wasn’t going to sell them the first book and then say, “Oh, by the way, you have to publish the next two as well.” When I got that bit of news about no agent or publisher wanting to see it, I was pretty much blown into the weeds by it, but this is useful information.

This woman’s business was to give the author an idea of what sort of things they should put in their query. She wasn’t a book doctor. Well, needless to say, what I got back was not very helpful, and it stopped me dead for two years. But during that time, I came to the conclusion that it was the work that was important and that if no one ever saw it—if I simply printed it out and threw it down the bit bucket—it was worth doing. And that gave me a kind of freedom that I don’t think you get any other way. The world isn’t ready for this? I’m going to make it anyway. So I did a lot of things in the second half of that book that I wouldn’t have done if I’d been thinking about traditional publishing. I lived for that last four years or so with the reality that I was making something that nobody would ever see. That was tremendously freeing. I still hate that woman for what she did, but she did me a favor by delaying me until self-publishing was as easy as it is now. So I went back and finished the book in 2006. And then I thought that I would take a year and query agents. I did all the things you’re supposed to do: I went and found a book that was similar to mine, found the agent and said, “This is like so and so’s book.” There were agents who would let you send them 50 pages and I would send them the 50 pages. I followed all the rules absolutely. And I gave up counting at 88. After that I just started blasting stuff to whomever I could find. But the whole time that I was doing that, I was studying up on self publishing. I started with the Dan Poynter books, and his paradigm was: “you find a printer, you get plates made, you print 5,000 copies offset, you warehouse them somewhere, you find someone to distribute them somehow,” but there was no distribution, there was no system to do this.

But in 2006, the latest edition said there was this place called Lightning Source and they did this digital printing, and then you could get your book listed on Amazon. I took the next year to learn the skills I needed. I learned InDesign to do the typesetting, Photoshop to do the covers. I learned Dreamweaver to do the websites. I got the paperback out on October 1, 2008. I had my books on Kindle in December 2008 and that’s when I started to see sales. If I had had Lightning Source print it as a single book, it would have run to probably 1,000 pages. It would have cost $50 or more to make a decent profit and give Amazon their cut. How do I get someone to take a chance on that? So I ripped the thing into three pieces and that way I could have normal-size books with a normal-size price, and, since ebooks don’t cost me anything to produce, I could give them away. I started out emailing Book I to people. And then somebody said why don’t you just have it as a download from your website?

When you’re self-published, you don’t have anybody beating the drum for you.

When you’re self-published, you don’t have anybody beating the drum for you. When your wife does it, or your publisher does it, it’s different. So I started just by going onto forums with people who are into ebooks, and I said, “Hey, I’ve got a free ebook.” Now if you go into a forum of readers and say, “Buy my book,” they’ll go, “spam, spam, spam.” But if you go in and “Free book,” they’ll go, “Where?” So that turned out to be the key to marketing this thing. And as it happens, I also subscribe to many, many, many Yahoo groups, listservs, about self publishing, indie publishing, traditional publishing, pod publishing, epub publishing and I found out that Amazon would price match any other price they found. So I set the book up on Smashwords, set the price for The Warrior’s Path to zero, and Amazon price matched it and we were off and running.

And about ten minutes after it went free on Amazon, Janis Ian found it and wrote and asked me for my autograph, and wrote a five-star review of it on Amazon (!!!). So when I saw her in concert last March, I brought her signed copies of the books. As I handed her the books, she said, “Are you going to do an audio book?” I said, “Well, as a matter of fact, I just signed with a company that produces audio books.” And she says, “I’d love to narrate it.” And we were off and running. So that’s going to be out in late November.

LQ: That soon?

CMW: That soon. We indies are speedy. We need those Christmas sales, man. No screwing around.

LQ: You’re really involved with your fan base. You respond frequently on Goodreads and Amazon, etc. What is the most common criticism that you receive about your trilogy?

CMW: I don’t receive criticism from my fans. But what I get is bad reviews, and generally, they are complaining about two things: One of them is that there’s lesbians in it. The other is that they have to pay ten dollars each for books two and three. So, they’re either bigots or cheapskates, that’s kind of how I look at it.

LQ: Well, all-righty then. That’s great though. That’s great that you’ve never had anyone tell you that you’re a terrible writer.

CMW: Oh, I get those. I just ignore it because it’s not true.

LQ: Good for you! Talk about the process of Janis recording your audio book. 

Catherine M. Wilson at home. Photo: Lise Quintana

Photo: Lise Quintana

CMW: The company producing the book is called Dog Ear Audio. It’s owned and run by Karen Wolfer, and she’s from Guffey, Colorado, and she has a studio, but Janis has allergies, so we went to Nashville. You know, Nashville is just like San Jose. They have the same mini malls, the same Targets, the same Lowe’s. We were right at home. So Janis has a friend Randy Leago who’s an engineer and utility musician. He has a recording studio, and rents himself out as the engineer.

Janis would come in around 10 in the morning. There was a little closet all hung up with quilts, and Randy, bless his heart, bought a brand new $1,000 microphone. She would go in there and she would get started. Randy was sitting monitoring levels and stuff, Karen was watching the script and listening—she’s got better hearing than a dog—she could hear airplanes that were in the next state, motorcycles, cars idling at the stop sign outside; she’d stop everything until the noise was gone. And Janis would just go in to read until she got tired, and then she’d take a break. We funded this thing through Kickstarter, and on Wednesday our big money supporters came, and they got to sit in. They were supposed to get a morning session, and then we would all have lunch with Janis and Randy and everybody, but they were so polite and good and so well behaved that Janis invited them for the rest of the day. And they were just over the moon. After that, Karen and I took them all out to dinner.

Here you have fans of Janis, fans of the book, who get to participate. Even if I could have afforded to finance the entire thing—basically, the Kickstarter campaign paid Janis and Randy, and Karen and I had to cover all our own travel expenses—the marketing potential of Kickstarter is phenomenal. You get all the people who are the most enthusiastic about your work, and about Janis’s work and all of a sudden, you’ve got them shouting to everybody they know, “Go, come support this great project.”

LQ: Have you gotten more people because of the Kickstarter campaign? Have a lot of Janis Ian’s fans now discovered your book?

CMW: Janis sends me emails that she gets from these people. A lot of them know she’s gay, but they don’t think they would find anything interesting in a gay book. Well, it’s not a gay book. It’s a book that has gay people in it, but it’s not a “gay” book. I think it was Janis’s publicist who said “I wasn’t going to read this because I’m not gay and I didn’t think there’d be anything in it for me, but it was fabulous!” Janis has a large mainstream audience, a non-gay audience, who are reading this book. So we’re just getting into the mainstream thing where people are talking about it.

LQ: I have heard that if you write genre fiction well enough, it is no longer genre fiction. It becomes mainstream fiction, literary fiction. So do you see yourself more as a literary fiction person?

CMW: I would call myself literary fiction if it wasn’t for the way people think about literary fiction.

LQ: Which is how?

CMW: I think of genre fiction as fiction that has a certain premise and you know what you’re going to get. You know you’re going to have a certain experience when you read this book. You are not looking for great insights into the meaning of life. You want to see a problem solved, or a puzzle unraveled, or something. However, there are people who write those genres literarily. I think of literary fiction as simply writing that has achieved a level of perfection, a level of polish. But genre fiction adheres to a standard. There’s a way these things are written and that’s how people expect to have them read. But people are thinking “I just want to really pull some of this genre into my mystery, but my editor wouldn’t let me because they wouldn’t know where to put it. They don’t know where to shelve it or how to market it or how to deal with it.” Well, now we’ve got these indies that were just doing it how they please where you can have a love story in a mystery or you can have a mystery in a love story or you can have people go to the moon and have a mystery. You don’t have to adhere to all these strict conventions. And this is the stuff I threw out of my head when I realized I was not going to be traditionally published.

And this is the stuff I threw out of my head when I realized I was not going to be traditionally published.

LQ: So do you think the publishing industry has changed radically since you started writing?

CMW: I think the publishing industry has had its pants scared off it, frankly. I just went to a conference in which Amanda Kyle Williams was the keynote speaker. She’s traditionally published, she’s a lesbian, she had a lesbian small press series in the ’90s and now she’s published by Random House. Her third book is coming out next year in which she’s got an adopted Chinese-American woman raised in Georgia who was an FBI profiler, an alcoholic who lost her job and becomes a private investigator and who lives in a very quirky area of Atlanta with a lot of very strange people. Now this is a lesbian author who has taken a lot of crap from the lesbian community for not making her hero a lesbian. But as she said at the conference, if her hero were lesbian, she would not have a contract with Random House. So what are you going to do with that? But her books are perfect for traditional publishing. She is perfect for traditional publishing. I’m not. They can’t publish people like me. One of the things that the woman who suggested that I take the sex out of the first part and market it to 10-year-olds said was, “You need to have a bestseller about something else.” And I thought, “I’m fifty-something. Am I going to live long enough to write the bestseller that gets me the open door?” There are a lot of people now who are selling millions of books as indies who are turning down traditional publishing.

LQ: So what did your sales look like? The first year, how many books did you sell, and how many are you selling now?

CMW: I think in terms of dollars. I don’t think in terms of numbers because first of all, Book I is free. There are millions of them out there. The copyright page says if you have a friend out there who would like to read this, send it to them. It’s free for everybody—come and get it. So numbers is pretty meaningless for that. The first year, I was only out three months for paperback sales, and I think I only made $300. The second year, I made a couple thousand of dollars. Kind of nice. I did a total of $20,000 for 2011. In 2012, I did $53,000.

LQ: That’s amazing.

CMW: That’s from having the book free and the fact that every day, I market.

LQ: Talk about your marketing efforts. What does marketing look like for you? 

CMW: I have so many marketing ideas. I have a towering pile of marketing ideas. The thing that I started with first was that I found people who were looking for ebooks and I gave the first book out free. If you read it and like it then books two and three—I don’t have to force them down your throat, do I? Then, I found places where I could let people know about Book I. There are three or four Yahoo groups that are all about lesbian fiction. When you go back to the bad old days of the 1990s, every lesbian I knew owned every book and every movie that had lesbians in it because there weren’t that many. Now you can’t begin to scratch the surface on it. There’s one particular group where they hated ebooks because they were elitist because you have to buy the reader. Well, you have to buy a DVD player too, but are DVDs elitist? Are records elitist because I had to buy a record player? But they soon got over that because, once you spent your $79 on your Kindle, there are all kinds of free ebooks. But then they started in on quality, and every indie book was a piece of crap. They were just into the books published by the niche publishers who were probably running a little bit scared of the indies.

I found a website called that will vet your independently published book. First you have to have a certain number of five-star reviews on Amazon, then you have be reviewed by one of their approved reviewers. And if their reviewer gives you four or five stars, you’re in. Because of that, I was able to advertise then on because BookBub is very picky. Then the Historical Novel Society, which wouldn’t review anything independently published, finally figured out that since historical fiction is the ugly stepchild of the publishing industry, publishers do not promote historical fiction. It’s why the Society exists in the first place: because no one was reviewing it. They finally figured out that there were a lot of independents who were publishing historical fiction, and so they just opened up to indies, and because I had received the vetting from AwesomeIndies, they were willing to look at this book. A reviewer emailed me back and said, “Ordinarily I would balk at reviewing a work that’s five years old. But I took the liberty of actually reading it and now there’s no way I’d turn it away.” So I’ve got a stunning five-star review from the Historical Novel Society. But every one of these things is scratch and claw, scratch and claw. I finally got onto BookBub, and the first time—this is the thing about having a free book—the first ad got me 23,000 downloads of book one. 23,000 books. How many books do most people hope to sell a year? 5,000? 10,000? That is an astonishing number and it boosted my sales that month by two or three thousand dollars.

LQ: Impressive. And you won an award for your trilogy.

CMW: I did. I won the Epic Ebook award in the mainstream category. My friend said, “You have to win an award because when you do your blurb, it has to say ‘award-winning.’” So I entered just about anything I could enter, I got my award and I quit entering.

LQ: So, do you plan on continuing writing this story? 

CMW: Not this story. Something that writers are doing that I might actually do—it depends on if there’s a story to tell there—my editor thinks that I should write a Thanksgiving dinner story, because of the very convoluted relationships. I mean, they say that in the lesbian community, there’s like two degrees of separation. You either slept with her or you slept with someone who has. There’s a lot of that going on in this story. It’s everybody and their exes sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table.

LQ: Isn’t this 3rd-century Ireland?

CMW: Actually, it’s more like 1000 BCE. I know that people want to read another book, but there isn’t more to say about it. Plus, I have another story telling itself in my head and it’s set in the ’70s. That’ll be the thing I sit down to write, if I write anything.

LQ: What advice do you have for writers who are trying to self-publish?

CMW: I would say first write a good book. That’s the hard part. I’ve gone through all the stages of writer. The part where you’d just die to see your name on the front of a book. You would pay a million dollars to see that. Well, now you can, and pay much less than that. But once you get there, you’ve gotten over wanting to be there. My friend asked, “But wasn’t it a real charge the first time you saw your book?” And it was good for about 10 minutes of “Oooh, wow.”

Second of all, have somebody edit it who knows what the hell they’re doing. I had it edited by a professional copyeditor who introduced more errors than there were in the first place. I was one of those kids who marked the errors in printed books.

LQ: I was too.

CMW: I knew you’d relate to that. I fell back on my own knowledge of the English language, and my ability to peruse the Chicago Manual of Style. But edit the shit out of your book. Have somebody who knows what they’re doing typeset it. I learned InDesign. I just had someone email me who was a friend of someone I’ve actually done typesetting for and she showed me her .pdf that had no top margin in the first six pages, and it was rejected by CreateSpace. And I told her, “Well, you’re going to have to adjust the margin down.” And she said, “Can you do that?” and I go, “No.” “Can you just do a little quick fix?” “No. I’ll typeset it for you in InDesign at $1 a page.”

LQ: Which is cheap, actually.

CMW: That’s very cheap. Book designers are $5 a page. I will do a basic typeset, properly kerned, properly set up, proper copyright page for a buck a page. And then with that, you get a properly produced .pdf file to upload to CreateSpace or Lightning Source. But how many years do you spend writing a piece of work? Do you really want to scrawl it on a piece of bark and throw it out the door? I mean, come on, make a professional product. Put together $1,000—you can make a beautiful print and ebook for $1,000. Most of my clients pay me $500 or $600.

LQ: I didn’t realize how really inexpensive it is to make something really professional.

CMW: Well, you don’t have to go back and forth with me a million times on it. That’s what designers do. That’s why they charge $5 a page. I come up with a basic setup, put a couple of chapters in, and send them the sample. If there’s anything you totally don’t like, I’ll fix it. Generally speaking, they’re happy to get a professionally produced product. And the same thing with covers. Have an artist do the artwork, and I’ll stick it on. I’ll get a template from CreateSpace of LightningSource and I’ll stick all the blurb shit on there for $200. $200 bucks gets you a Kindle or an epub. So a 300-page book, $600. And it’s a professional job. And it’s going to work and it’s not going to get kicked back to you and it’s going to look good. So if your work’s not worth spending $600, then you deserve to be laughed out of the publishing business.

LQ: You are not the first person from whom I’ve heard, “Spend a little money. Make sure that your work looks good.”

You can find Catherine M. Wilson’s trilogy, and get a free download of Book I, The Warrior’s Path, from Shield Maiden Press.

Marissa CohenThe late poet laureate of Florida called Marissa Cohen’s ( work “powerful.” Her writing has appeared in countless publications, including The Cancer Poetry Project 2 (as featured in The New York Times), Gather Kindling, and Wilde Magazine. She’s twice been interviewed on CBS Radio and also works in higher education and publishing.



2012-02-19 20.06.21Lise Quintana is the Editor-in-Chief of Lunch Ticket. Her fiction has appeared in such places as The Weekenders and Willow Review. She is within spitting distance of receiving her MFA from Antioch University, LA, and lives in the woods in Northern California.