Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Writer's Den: Novelist Katie Mettner's journey as a prolific writer & self-published author

Hello friends! We’re launching a new series this month called The Writer’s Den (#thewritersden)! Once a month, we’ll invite a writer and author to come over to the blog and tell us about their journey in writing and publishing, their craft and their struggles, their inspirations and their stories. Today, we’ve invited #inddieauthor Katie Mettner, who has written 36 novels and published 31 of those, to tell us what got her started in this journey.

 C. Please tell us about yourself – what you do, the number of books you’ve written, where do you live, your family.

K. My name is Katie Mettner and I live in the Northwoods of Wisconsin near Lake Superior. My husband is a teacher for a local school district, and we’ve been married eighteen years. We had our own little instalove story. We met online in November 1999, met at Thanksgiving, he proposed on New Year’s Eve 1999, and we were married in April 2000! We have three kids, whom we call the three E’s because their names all start with E! Emily is starting college this year as a music education major, Edward is learning to drive, and Elias is learning the tuba! Our only pet is a very special leopard gecko named Leroy Jethro Gibbs (my daughter is a huge fan of NCIS).

I’m disabled as an amputee, but I used to be a medical transcriptionist for a dozen years. That job gave me a lot of fodder for stories and the knowledge to write about physical conditions and how to research them. I spend my days writing, editing, reading, crocheting, and momming (is that a word?) I just finished my 36th novel and currently have 31 published. I have two more releases for 2018.

C. How long have you been writing & when did you publish your first book?

K. I’ve been writing my whole life, but wrote my first full length novel, Sugar’s Dance, in 2o11 as I was healing from my amputation. I published it on Halloween 2011 and let me tell you, I knew NOTHING about publishing! I was totally in the dark about most of it and just wanted a copy for my family. When I published it on KDP I didn’t even think about the fact other people were going to find it and read it. That decision lead to me being here seven years later still writing stories about disabled characters searching for love.

C. What kind of books and stories do you enjoy writing?

K. I love writing stories about the underdog. In most of my stories the main character has a physical disability or condition that makes them who they are, but they also struggle to find a partner who understand what they go through. Most of my books are romantic suspense or have some type of mystery in the storyline. I write contemporary romance for Christmas stories, and also have several LGBTQ novels.

C. How do you gather inspiration for every book or story that you write and research the story?

K. When the idea comes to me I usually start by searching Amazon for the title I want to use. If it’s open then I start looking for books with possibly the same plot. If I find my idea is original enough, then I start writing. I’m not a plotter. I just start writing and see where the characters take me as they tell their story. Occasionally that gives me a few headaches when I start my first edit of the manuscript but overall, I find it the best way to write for me. Researching is often reaching out to people I know, medical journal articles, and local providers who are always happy to answer my often bizarre questions like, “Does a spinal cord stimulator help pain from brachial plexus injury.” I asked that question while laying upside down getting a neck injection. Being a writer is always about taking opportunities to make the stories as realistic as possible, no matter what position you’re in while doing it!

C. We’d love a peek inside your writing process – how you get to work on a new novel, how long does it take typically etc.?

K. My writing process is pretty loosey goosey unless I’m writing a book that is part of a series. Usually, if it’s a second or third book in a series, I already know the characters, where they are going, and what their general story will be. I can often write a book like that in a couple weeks if it’s 80-100,000 words. If it’s a new idea for a series or a stand-alone book then it can take me anywhere from three weeks to six weeks to finish the story. I don’t spend a lot of time plotting because I’ve learned I rarely stick to the plot outline anyway. Sometimes the whole book is based on one pinnacle scene or line. Sugar’s Dance was based on a scene I wrote where she was in a car on the bridge that killed her parents. It was like that first ride into healing for her. I had a four-paragraph scene that I built the rest of the book around.Sometimes, like with the novel I just finished,the whole book is based off of one line. “The smell permeating the mobile home was as overpowering as the despair was overwhelming.” That line came to me and I built an entire book around it. It’s weird little things like that and boom, I have a story.

Katie's favorite view

C. What’s your favorite time to write?

K. I love writing early in the morning or late at night. It’s hard to find quiet time in this house, especially in the summer, so you’ll find me up at five a.m. most days to get writing or social media posts done before everyone is up and going for the day.

C. Are you a self-published author or do you prefer to publish with a publishing company?

K. All but one of my books is self-published. I recently signed a contract with a small press for my paranormal romance, Someone in the Water. I love self-publishing. It gives me the freedom to release when I want to release, update the covers, put them on sale etc. However, recently, I’ve begun to submit to publishers in hopes of expanding my reach to new readers and to find a group of writers to connect with for marketing etc.

C. Please tell us more about your self-publishing process – how do you do it, the all-round effort involved and what you love about it.

K. I’ve finally streamlined the process after all these years. Now I write the book and send it to my editor for the first edit. She sends it back to me and I do my second edit per her suggestions. I send it back to her for a second edit and when I get it back, I do a full listen through for proofing etc. and then I let it sit. I come back and do that one more time before I publish. Self-publishing is time consuming until you know how to do it, then it becomes second nature. Now it only takes me an hour to get the document up on KDP for Amazon and uploaded to the paperback site. I do use a cover artist, so the files are sent to me, which saves a lot of time.

C. What’s your writing space like(do you write on the dining table or in a little nook or have a writer’s room)?

K. Since I’m disabled and have a bad arm and back from the accident that caused the amputation, I always write in my recliner. I use the arm of the chair for the mouse and have a special pad for the computer for my lap. I also use voice to text to write, since my hands often hurt if I type too much after being a transcriptionist for so many years. I have a great view of the lake from my chair though, and that gives me lots of inspiration as I write!

C. You come up some unusual names for your characters. How do you come up with these?

K. I just love the idea of originality in stories. I refuse to jump on the band wagon of naming a character Jax or whatever other hot name is out there for the main character. I delve into who I want the character to be and I give them the name that I would choose if it was my child and I knew those were the traits they would have.

Sugar – The main character in the Sugar Series has the real name of Tula. She goes by Sugar because it’s what her father always called her and it stuck with everyone in her life. In the end, the man she falls in love with calls her Tula, because to him it’s more intimate since he’s the only one who calls her Tula.
The Snowberry Series – In this series the names are all based off the holiday their story is about. Snow Daze, December Kiss, Noel’s Hart, April Melody. Each story explains the characters name and there are plenty of Aha moments as you read that series. There are seven books in total in that series, and one spin-off, Calling Kupid. That book started a new Hawaiian series called Kupid’s Cove.

The Northern Lights Series – The characters in this series evolved because Grant Harris was introduced in the Sugar Series. I called his book Granted Redemption and in thisbook we meet Autumn Hanson. She became book two with Autumn Reflections. We meet Winter in Autumn’s book and then we have Winter’s Rain. Winter’s best friend, Phoenix, is the driving force in Winter’s book, so then we have Forever, Phoenix. Phoenix’s love interest Adam has a sister named Willow, and her story, After Summer Ends (F/F romance) is the final one in that series.

You get the idea of how I develop these series and characters in my mind. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it’s not. Often it just happens and without trying I write characters who need their own book. Luckily, I’ve chosen a name that makes it work.

In my opinion, characters need names that reflect who they are. They also need a name that helps a reader relate to them and fall in love with them. When you use ‘hot’ names readers tend to lose interest after a few books where the character is named the same thing over and over. For instance, the last one made me chuckle. Everyone was using the name Elias for their main character hero name. I literally chuckled because I have a 13-year-old Elias in my house and it’s certainly not your typical name. Suddenly, it flew onto the scene as the hot name for muscle bound tattooed men. I have a story where the main character is named Eli that I wrote years ago, so I just smiled to myself and thought, “Guess I was just a little ahead of the game.”

C. What’s a regular day like for you & how do you balance your writing, inspiration finding& marketing with chores, time with kids and family?

K. This is the hardest part for any writer, traditionally published or self-published, because we are still doing our own marketing regardless of who publishes our books, but we’d all rather be writing. There isn’t a writer alive who wants to take time away from their writing to market. It’s not in our nature. Our nature is to keep turning out the stories, but alas, with the book world as big as it is, you have to market your work or no one will find it. The balancing act can be tough and I struggle with it often. When it comes down to it, my writing and marketing is going to take a backseat to my family every time. When they are in school all day it’s a lot easier than summer when they are all home. During the school year I get them off to class and write until about eight. Then I do Tweeting, Facebook posts, blog posts or anything else I have to get done for the marketing angle. Then it’s time for those dreaded chores, which take me longer because I’m not always moving well depending on my leg. Once those are done, I write again or research the next book. My evenings are always spent with my kids and husband which is where my inspiration finding comes in. I love watching mystery shows and reading at night.

C. What are your favorite things to do when not writing and do you carve out time for these regularly?

K. I love crocheting and I do that almost daily. I’m a huge reader, of course, and I do that every day as well. Baking is another huge one for me, which I do less of in the summer, but in the winter, my house always smells like something yummy! I love playing the Native American love flute and have four of them to keep myself busy. I’m pretty shy about it though, so I tend to only play when everyone is gone. I spend a ton of time with my kids at their music events, as they are all vocalists in the choir, and musicians in the band. You’ll often see me typing on my phone or writing in a notebook while they are warming up. I do a lot of multitasking in order to get everything done I have to do every day.

C. Where can readers find your books?

K. All of my books are available only on Amazon. They are all part of Kindle Unlimited and the first of every series is .99. You can follow me there for new releases or visit me on my website and blog at www.KatieMettner.com! You can find me on Facebook under Katie Mettner Author and on Twitter at @KatieMettner. I love meeting readers and hearing from them what they think about my characters and stories!

Thank you Katie, for joining us here!

Ans since I'm a #selfpublished author too, here's info about my book: Grab my new #Amazon #Bestseller ‘The Work-At-Home Military Wife’ to know more about building a work-from-home life on the move! 

If you're in the US, you can get my book for just $0.98 this week, here:

(You don’t need a Kindle device to read it; read it via the Free Kindle app on your phone, tablet or computer.)

And hey, if you’d like to explore work-from-home career ideas that you can pack and carry, download my FREE ebook '25 Work-from-home Careers for the Military Wife’ by signing-up for my email updates, here.

Connect with me:

Twitter @ChandanaMilSpo
Instagram @chandanamilspo

#workfromhome #theworkathomemilitarywife #workathomejobs #workfromhomecareers #militaryspouse 


  1. Great to get to know you better on a personal and professional level, Katie! Love your books and have had the pleasure of reading many of them!


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