Kathy L. Wheeler

Pen to Paper Guide Spotlight: Kathy L. Wheeler

Kathy L. Wheeler boosted her confidence while instilling it in others as a Pen to Paper guide

By Kathy L. Wheeler

Which side of the wall are you standing on? The “I write regularly and finish what I start” side, or the “I write slow, labor over every paragraph, sentence, word—oh! I have another idea. This time I know I’ll finish” side?

I’m being facetious, of course. There are a million variations that fall between these two extremes, like being a plotter or a pantser.

First, I will say, there is no wrong way to write a book. It comes down to your own dreams, goals, and grip on reality.

Dreams are clouds that float over your head. Goals are tangible—ideas molded into attainable steps you take to reach that milestone. This is where the grip on reality comes in. Is a goal of $1 million a year a reachable goal? Maybe for some. But if your dream is to become a seven-figure author, that requires a plan. A strategy. Some step-by-step process one can follow, short of an unexpected inheritance or lottery win.

I work hard every day on my writing career. I’m luckier than many other authors. Shockingly, it’s due to my age. The pandemic worked in my favor, allowing me to sit down and just write.

It’s one thing say you are a writer and another to be a writer.

Writing a book is tough. Oh, the drudgery: You have to sit in the chair. You have to commit. You have to live up to those aspirations you dreamed in order to call yourself a writer. Let’s face it, this is one job no one can do for you. To learn means you have to do.

Finishing a book is worth celebrating.

Currently, I joined RWA’s Pen to Paper program as a guide. I was very nervous in the beginning. I thought I couldn’t possibly have anything to offer. You know what? I was wrong. When people ask me about my stories, they tell me that I light up. I was a computer programmer in my previous career, and I never worked as hard at that job as I do at this one.

The difference? Passion.

Part of the Pen to Paper program included meeting one-on-one with your mentees just before the official start back in late December. My husband was cooking in our open plan living/kitchen while I spoke with each of my circle members. I’ll start with mentioning this:

  • Member #1 has trouble completing a story before moving on to the next one and carving out the time to write.
  • Member #2 struggles with getting bogged down in the details and can’t always see the end of the big picture.
  • Member #3 has no trouble getting the words down, but she’s never written romance and was looking to learn how characters connect with each other and within the plot.

When the Zoom session ended with Member #1, my husband stopped what he was doing and stared at me. When he finally spoke, what he said floored me—and made me cry. It went something like this: “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. You are so… so smart. Every question she asked, you had an answer. It was so logical and…” —he had to stop because he teared up (plus, he’s a lawyer, you know, the logic thing)—“everything you said made sense. After all these years, you are know so much.”

Of course, my response was, “I’ve just been doing it a while.”

I should have embraced what he said, not downplayed it. I am smart. I have been doing this a while. I’ve spent years in critique groups, judging contests, volunteering in the various groups to help in all aspects that I could. To learn. To be good at this thing I truly love.

Being a guide in this fantastic program is teaching me as much as the members my guide partner and I mentor.  I couldn’t have chosen a better way to boost my own confidence. The endorphins in helping others is life-changing.

You should try it.

Kathy L. Wheeler has over thirty contemporary and historical published romances. She loves the NFL, musical theater, travel, reading, writing… and karaoke. She lives in the Pacific northwest with her musically talented, lawyer husband and her dog, Angel, who lives up to her name… mostly!