Local romance author to release new book

‘A Cowboy’s Christmas Proposal’ hitting shelves Nov. 1
CARY HINES, Assistant editor

Photo by Cary Hines
Cathy McDavid poses Sept. 6 in Glendale with two of her books, “The Cowboy’s Twin Surprise” and “The Bull Rider’s Valentine.”

“A Cowboy’s Christmas Proposal,” written by local author Cathy McDavid, is set to be released just in time for the holidays. McDavid, who is the president of the West Valley chapter of Romance Writers of America, has written more than 40 books and has been with Harlequin since 2005.

“You want to talk about milestones is the first time you go into a bookstore and see your book on a shelf.” — Cathy McDavid, Author
There are plotters and there are pantsers. Cathy McDavid is a plotter.
The technique works for the local romance author who has more than 40 books under her belt, with another, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Proposal,” set to be released Nov. 1.
“Plotters are obviously people who plot, and I’m a plotter,” said McDavid, who is the president of the Valley of the Sun Romance Writers, the West Valley chapter of Romance Writers of America.
It’s one reason she rarely experiences writer’s block. McDavid typically outlines her story in nine to 10 pages.
“Because I do that on the front end, I generally don’t have writer’s block,” she said.
“Pantsers,” she explained, write “by the seat of their pants.”
“When people sit down and have a vague idea for a story and just start writing, that’s generally when they hit writer’s block, and that’s because they haven’t thought the story all the way through or they get to a certain point and realize it’s not working,” she said, adding that most authors actually start out writing that way.
McDavid’s technique also ensures she hits her word count for her publisher, Harlequin, who she has been with since 2005.
“With this particular publisher, I have to come in at a specific word count, a very specific word count with very little leeway,” she said, explaining the word count is 70,000 so she needs to write between 69,000 and 73,000 words. “Because I plot, I actually have points in the story, so I know when I’m at the midpoint, I need to be at approximately 35,000 words.”
McDavid, who moved to Arizona from Connecticut when she was 13, wrote her first book while in high school.
“I actually won a contest in high school, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book and they locally published that, so whether that was really published or not, I don’t know,” she said with a laugh.
Her first adult romance book was released in 2000 by Dorchester, a small publisher, which is no longer in business.

“That’s when I got in bookstores,” she said. “I could go to Barnes & Noble, that was a milestone. You want to talk about milestones is the first time you go into a bookstore and see your book on a shelf.”
The western historical book was called “The Gate to Eden,” and to this day is one of her favorites.
“I love western historicals,” she said. “I would be writing western historicals today if there was a bigger market for them.”
These days, the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author sticks to contemporary westerns, something she knows a lot about.
“I spent almost all my life, up until probably 2008, I had horses just about my whole life,” she said. “I rode horses, I showed horses in high school and college, I grew up with them.”
McDavid, who has also made Amazon’s Top 100 list and is a member of Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll, has been lucky to have the same editor at Harlequin, she said.
“Editors come and go, and I know authors who have been bounced around from one editor to the next, so she and I have a great relationship,” McDavid said. “She knows what I can do, I know what she expects from me.”
McDavid’s also lucky to belong to a wonderful critique group, she said.
“They read my stuff first,” she said. “We meet religiously, we are committed. We meet every two weeks over breakfast. We’ve read each other, so we submit pages, we read each other’s pages and we critique. They give me feedback, I give them feedback.”
Four of the five group members have been together for 15 years, which can be “good and bad,” McDavid said.
“We’re probably sometimes rougher on each other than we need to be because we’re very comfortable with each other,” she said.

Valley of the Sun Romance Writers

Although McDavid lives in Tempe and is also a member of the East Valley chapter of Romance Writers of America, she considers the Valley of the Sun Romance Writers her “home chapter.”
“I originally lived on the west side, which is when I first joined — 19 years ago — when I joined the Valley of the Sun Romance Writers, who are based here in Glendale,” she said. “I joined them because I was living on the west side and I just stuck with them. My best friends are there, I love the group and I’m here twice a month.”
She said the group hosts monthly speakers, many of whom she calls “walk of life” speakers who help authors with research.
“We have a detective come in and talk about cold cases, or a medical examiner come in and talk about what they do. We’ve had forensics experts come in,” McDavid said.
She said most of the group’s programs center on the craft of writing.
“So we’re going to have classes on editing, or we’re going to have classes on writing different lengths or characterization,” she said.
A lot of the classes focus on marketing.
“So we’re going to talk about how to engage social media to help promote your books, or what are the best ways to advertise your books?” she said.
The group meets the second Tuesday of every month at Ironworks Restaurant, 17233 N. 45th Ave. in Phoenix. Guests may attend two meetings before joining. For more information, visit http://valleyofthesunrw.com/.
This month, the group is hosting speakers on the joys of writing.
McDavid said despite what people think, writing is actually demanding and even grueling at times, especially when deadlines come into play.
“People look at me and think, ‘How great, you just sit around all day, it’s so easy,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m working so hard,’” she said. “It doesn’t always come to you every day. You don’t just sit there and go, ‘I’m going to write 10 pages and they’re going to be fantastic.’ Sometimes, it’s very difficult.”
The Valley of the Sun Romance Writers group offers workshops and classes every February during the Glendale Chocolate Affaire.
“The Chocolate Affaire is a big event for our chapter,” McDavid said. “We’re very involved in that. We have a booth every year. We have a lot of reader fans who look for that booth every year.”

‘A Cowboy’s Christmas Proposal’

“A Cowboy’s Christmas Proposal” takes place in Mustang Valley, a fictional town McDavid created north of the McDowell Mountains. The idea came to her eight years ago while she was walking her dog and wondered if there were any wild mustangs left in Arizona, she said. Mustang Valley is the setting for 14 of her books.
“A Cowboy’s Christmas Proposal” is the first in the Sweetheart Ranch series. The idea for Sweetheart Ranch, a western themed destination wedding venue in her fictional town, came to her when she was recently searching for her own wedding venue. “A Cowboy’s Christmas Proposal” features a rookie wedding planner and single father turned temporary wedding officiant whose three children wreak havoc at the ranch.
“A Cowboy’s Christmas Proposal” can be preordered at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Rakuten Kobo and iTunes.
To learn more about McDavid, visit http://cathymcdavid.com/.

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