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Rhody Radio episode transcription has been been made possible by the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries, which is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


The Life of an Author: with Beth Splaine & Kathy Haueisen

Two book covers side by side. The first is Devil's Grace by Elizabeth B Splaine, featuring an photograph of the beach with ominous red clouds in the background. The second is Mayflower Chronicles by Kathryn Brewster Haueisen, feautirng an illustration of a Native American in ceremonial feathered headress looking out towards a sailing ship in the water.


Amy: You are listening to Rhody Radio. Rhode Island Library Radio Online. When you're listening to Rhody Radio, you know you're listening to something good.


Jessica: Hey, there Rhody Radio listeners. This is your guest host, Jessica D'Avanza from Barrington Public Library. What happens when a local Barrington writer and a writer in Texas each win a contest to have their manuscript published into a book? Something magical. Their first meeting was in Vermont at a writer's retreat center in 2019. They call this meeting predestined. In this week's episode, we will hear a conversation between two authors, Elizabeth Splaine in Barrington, Rhode Island, and Kathryn Brewster Haueisen in Houston, Texas. Elizabeth and Kathryn will each share the magic behind their books and give us a glimpse into the life of a writer.

In 2020, they each published their books through the Indie publisher, Green Writers Press. Elizabeth's third book, a medical error, thriller titled Devil's Grace is set in Barrington. It tells the story of the main character, Angela Brennan, and her path from devastation to redemption in the wake of a tragic accident. The most recent of her six published books, Kathryn's book Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures, is her debut historical fiction novel. It gives an account of events on both sides of the Atlantic that led to the founding of Plimoth Plantation. It may have been written by a Texan, but this novel was very much shaped by the Rhode Islander she met [00:02:00] on that fateful August day.

In their dialogue, Elizabeth goes by Beth and Kathryn goes by Kathy. I'll see y'all at the end of the episode.


Beth: Hey, Kathy. How are you?

Kathy: Hello? I'm well, how are you doing today, Beth?

Beth: I'm great. I'm excited to have you here, although, because of your book, which we'll get into, you've spent some time already in New England in terms of research.

Kathy: I spent a lot of time in New England and I've been to Rhode Island a side trip. We were vacationing up in Maine, and we're on our way back to Ohio and we had never been to Rhode Island. We literally, drove across a straight line, made the kids get out of the car, walk around the car, and get back in the car and say, "There, you've been to Rhode Island."

Beth: You can cross it off the list or put a pin in the message. We're here to talk about our books and writing and each other. Kathy and I met in Vermont at a writer's retreat center. There's a contest called When Words Count and first prize is a full publishing package.

Kathy: I first went to the retreat center in Vermont six or seven years ago, I think. I was already working on a story about the Mayflower. I wasn't sure how I was going to put it together, but I knew I wanted to be a historical fiction because I wanted the characters to talk to each other. I also wanted to include the Native American perspective. I have no Native American heritage in my family, but my daughter married into a family that does. That widen my eyes and helped me see things given from a different perspective than the one I'd grown up with.

I went to this retreat center, I fiddle around the book, I didn't really get very far with it. A few years ago, the person who manages the retreat center reached out to me and said, "You need to come back and finish that book because the 400th anniversary is coming up and we need that book [00:04:00] out for the 400th anniversary."

Beth: He said that to you?

Kathy: "This is the prime time to get this book done." I agreed. I went back to this pitch week program that they have, and that forced me to get the book done. I probably would not have gotten done if that hadn't happened, but the book was done. We were on the final edits. We were getting ready to actually print the book and I had already interviewed one Native American. I had hired another Native American to do some editing for me, but nobody had seen the entire manuscript.

I thought, "Before this very Anglosaxon White woman publishes a book that includes a narrative about Native American people, I need somebody in that community to review this book." I naively picked up the phone and called a few history departments and a couple of museums and I either got no response. Or everyone referred me to someone else who referred me to someone else and I just wasn't getting anywhere. Finally, in desperation, I just emailed Beth and said, "Well, you're in the area. You must have some connections that I don't." I'm talking to you from Houston, Texas.

Beth put it out on the Nextdoor neighbor app and a neighbor responded and said, "Well, we have this woman living in our neighborhood. Her name is Tracy Brown and I'm pretty sure she's part of that story. Would you like to meet her and we were off and running.

Beth: It's so funny because when you sent out that request, I thought, "Oh, I don't think I can help in any way." Then actually, I recorded your audiobook and because of that, I knew all the characters in the book and one of them is Massasoit Ousamequin. Of course at the Wampanoag tribe and which was a later name. Anyway, I started thinking, "Well, wait a minute, I drive down Wampanoag Trail all the time to Squantum, huh? I know that name. That's around here all the time."

I realized, [00:06:00] "Oh, maybe there is something here." Tracy Brown and her family, we all know how small Barrington is, lives about three blocks away. I met Tracy. She helped me with some of the pronunciations in the book. Kathy's and my relationship continued. It was bizarre that I happened to enter this writing competition that she happened to be in from Houston, Texas. She was writing a book about people that actually live where I live and I just moved here a couple years ago. That's what I meant by predestined. I felt like.

Kathy: Beth has been the link to connect me to the Massasoit Ousamequin because I am a direct descendent of William and Mary Brewster. My ancestor, William Brewster was the elder of the group. He was a lay pastor. They left their actual pastor behind in Holland when they came over. He functioned in that role, thinking that the actual pastor would come any ship now, but that never happened. When I got to know Tracy, and then she introduced me to her father and to her son, her father is a Sagamore. He's the main leader of the Pokanoket Nation. Tracy is the local leader of that group and her son is the Pokanoket historian.

The good news was they were more than happy to give me information and it wasn't bad news at all, but it made me anxious. When they actually read the manuscript, I thought, "What am I going to do if they've read this and said, 'please don't publish this. This is just really not accurate. We don't want any more of this."

Beth: After all that work.

Kathy: Inaccurate history out there. I was really quite nervous until they read it and got back in touch with me and said, "No, this'll be okay." They tweaked a couple of really minor things. Then, I asked if they considered writing the Forward to the book and they agreed to do so. They invited me to come up and meet the tribal council. I was trying to figure out how to make that happen [00:08:00] until the pandemic shut everything down. I still haven't gotten to do that. I was just so excited about this because we're sure that their ancestor and my ancestor not only knew each other, they worked out the treaty together, along with many other people I don't want to-

Beth: I want to be clear. Your great, great, great times, whatever 12-ish grandfather was William and his wife, Mary Brewster. They were grandparents. They were on the Mayflower.

Kathy: Yes.

Beth: When they landed, they met the great, great, great whatever, Tracy Brown who lives in Barrington. The odds of that are just staggering.

Kathy: Yes. It definitely feels like it was meant to be that now is the time to retell this story. We're trying to be a whole lot more sensitive to the history, the plight of the Native American population in this country, since the Europeans started showing up. We're trying to tell the story more honestly and accurately. To be able to meet these people and have them fill me in on the gaps that I didn't have and then to help promote the story has just been phenomenal. It all started at this retreat center in Vermont of all places.

Beth: Tracy and William guy said, it's a great book. I'm going to brag because Kathy won't say this, but Kathy's book, Mayflower Chronicles, is in consideration for becoming part of the history curriculum in Barrington schools. It's that good?

Kathy: I would love to get it into the school system because the truncated version we tell of Thanksgiving is not inaccurate. It's based on what really happened, but it is so slanted it leaves out so much important information. We wouldn't have had Thanksgiving if Tracy Brown's ancestor hadn't come calling on the English settlers and said, "Well, you've shown up with women and children and you're building houses. It looks like you're not here to [00:10:00] trade, you're going to stay. We need to talk." He initiated that.

What people don't know about Thanksgiving is-- That was in March time passes, they get to the fall, they have a good fall harvest. They're celebrating. Part of their celebration is shooting off their muskets. Well, part of the Treaty was, if you're in trouble, we will come and help you. The natives hear the muskets going off and think, well, maybe they're in trouble so they came rushing in to help them. Found out they weren't in trouble and the exact opposite, they were excited because they're going to have food for this winter. The natives went out and rounded up food and brought it back. We have the feast that we based, our Thanksgiving tradition on. I was never taught any of that in school. I think.

Beth: I was flabbergasted-- you made history fun in reading that book seriously. It's a pleasure to learn history. Of course, as we get older history becomes more relevant I think because we realize that we're now a part of it. To make learning fun in understanding that you had to write some fiction in order to get the story across because records are scarce, from what you've told me about-

Kathy: Yes. There are gaps in a story like there's this Quantum that you have a street named after apparently he was kidnapped. He was taken on a ship over to Spain in 1614. We know that happened. He ended up in London. We don't know how that happened, but we do know that in London, he lived with a family, he learned English. He managed to get back over to this continent in 1619. When the English showed up and they wanted to communicate with each other, he and one other person spoke English well enough that they were the translators.

Beth: You made up that part of the story that was super fun to read. You just imagined what happened to this Quantum, once he was captured and sent and learned English, because we don't really know that. That's the cool part of the book [00:12:00] Now you created a study guide. We know what's real and we know what's not and people can take from that.

Kathy: Well, so let's talk a little bit about your book. One of the things that Beth did at this retreat that I think all of us will forever remember and tell stories about is we had dinner every night. These wonderful dinners that were cooked by this gourmet chef. Every night we had these wonderful dinners and we would sit around and talk about all kinds of things. One evening, the wife and daughter of the retreat manager, owner person came to dinner. It was her birthday or near her birthday. She was a big opera fan. Well, Beth has a background as professional opera singer.

She offered to sing an aria for this young woman, found out what her favorite opera was, no rehearsal, no accompaniment, no warm-up time. We're just sitting there at dinner and all of a sudden Beth breaks into this beautiful aria, which was just astounding. One of my questions for Beth has been, how on earth did you go from a professional opera singer to writing books about medical mishaps in a hospital and other fascinating books.

Beth: Yes. Well, thank you for that. That was a surprise. I didn't know you were going to tell them that. I worked in healthcare for 10 or 11 years. I have master's in healthcare administration. I worked in healthcare for a while and while I was in healthcare, I really always wanted to be singing. I started auditioning for local opera companies, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Philly, and things like that. I started getting roles and because I didn't have a music degree and my life wasn't devoted to this I started in the chorus and then I got small roles. I kept building and I ended up singing with Grand Rapids Opera and Harrisburg Opera.

[00:14:00] I started teaching too. I teach voice through the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School, but I was on stage singing the flower duet from Lakmé with one of my students, which is one of the most beautiful duets ever written. I literally thought, "I don't want to be here anymore." It was like a switch. I just didn't want to be on stage anymore. All that working so hard to get on stage I was done. I came home and I said to my husband, Kevin, I think I'm done performing. He was like, "Yes. Right." I said, "No, I think I'm really done."

That was it. I think I went on stage one more time because one of my students asked me to sing with her and it was a kid. She was a kid. We did anything you can do I can do better. Was awesome. Anyway, then I started writing. This was weird. My first book came out of nowhere. I was brushing my teeth and these ideas started populating in my head. I went downstairs and I started typing, and my husband came home hours later from work and he said, "What are you doing?"

I said, "I'm not sure. I think I'm writing a book." He was like, "What?" I was like, "Yes, I think I'm writing a book." I did. I wrote this whole book called Blind Leading the Blind, which has not been published because it wasn't ready to be published. Then after that, I wrote another story with the same main characters and another one after that. The first two books, Blind Order and Blind Knowledge were self-published. Then, I was finishing up Blind Knowledge when a friend of mine who routinely communicates with those who have passed, texted me out of the blue.

She said, "How's your writing going?" She had never done that before so that was weird. I picked up the phone, I was like, "What's going on?" She said, "You're supposed to be writing about the light." I said, "That's fantastic. What does that mean?" She's like, [00:16:00] "I don't know this the directive you're supposed to be writing about the light?" I'm just like, "Well." Now my husband is also in healthcare. We met in grad school. He had recently told me two true stories, and I thought, "Well, I think I could weave these two ideas together to create a mystery thriller medical error kind of book."

She laughed and she said, "That's it, that's what you're supposed to be writing." I said, "Okay, well I'll just finish what I'm doing." She said, "No, no, you need to drop what you're doing and start writing." I was like, "Really?" That day I dropped what I was doing. I started writing what became Devil's Grace. How I entered the contest was also very strange. I don't know if you've heard this, Kathy, but my husband's cousin is a writer and he told me about this competition. I ended up on the phone with Steve Eisner who's the CEO of the competition.

I only had 10,000 words of Devil's Grace and I didn't have a title. On the phone, he's asking me all these questions about the book. He said, "What's the title?" I said, "The title." He said, "Yes, what's the title?" I said "Devil's Grace." He goes, "Whoa, that's great." I was like, "Yes, that is great."

Kathy: Where did that come from?

Beth: There are other stories related to this book that are just unexplainable. It just came out of me. I wrote it and I loved it. As I stopped singing, I started writing, and then it's the same creative process quite frankly. You can work on an aria for months or years and still never have it the way you want it to sing in a show. You can work on a manuscript for months or years. It's letting that creative baby be released into the world that same trepidation, excitement anxiety. It's exactly the same process. The process of rejection is also exactly the same when people would say, "Oh, you're a new [00:18:00] author. Woo. You got to get used to the rejection."

My response was always, "Are you kidding me?" I would audition with 10 people, literally, judging me and writing down things while they're looking at me and listening, and not get the part. It's fine. It's all good.

Kathy: Your Devil's Grace is in hospital setting and is based on a death that could have been avoided except for a human error. I'm just wondering I don't know if you still hang out in the medical profession field or not, but I'm just wondering what kind of feedback have you gotten?

Beth: Well, yes, Devil's Grace, Angela Brandon is a cardiac surgeon and she's next in line to become CEO of the local hospital here in Barrington, which there is no local hospital here in Barrington, but the fictional one. Her family is in a car crash and she loses part of her family in that car crash. Then shortly after that, her daughter dies after surgery, leaving her completely alone within 24 hours. She starts to ask questions about her daughter's death and finds that roadblocks are being put up in front of her. This is the hospital where she works, her colleagues, and all of a sudden she's no longer welcome.

They keep pushing her and she comes up against these roadblocks. As she thinks, "Wow, I'm really losing my mind." She realizes that she's been talking to ghosts, which also flips her out. She really thinks she's losing her mind and then it just ratchets up from there. To answer your question directly, all the physicians and nurses who have read it, and several, I had two physicians read it and a nurse ahead of time to make sure the medical stuff was accurate. Shout off to Charlie Payne, because he was one of the retired anesthesiologist who read it. Anyway, so that's all very accurate.

In terms of the response what's interesting to me is the non-medical people. [00:20:00] Some non-medical people have said this can't really happen in hospitals. There's no way a CEO would act like that. I always just smiled, because anyone who's in health care, sorry, I'm going to get slammed, but Kevin and I played golf last weekend and I won't say with whom, but she said to me, "Man, your CEO was right on." I was like, "No word." I'm going to leave it at that, that people can decide what they want. Business is business, it doesn't matter whether it's the health care business or the [crosstalk] Business is business.

You got to have a black bottom line to keep going, and whatever needs to get done needs to get done in order for that to happen. That's the way some people think. Leave your morals and your conscience at the door.

Kathy: Which is sad, but that's reality, I think.

Beth: That's exactly right. We know you were inspired to write, I want to hear a little bit more about the research that you did, because I kind of alluded to that earlier. Tell us where you went, how long it took?

Kathy: It took a long time. I'm glad I had a good time doing it, because I'll probably never sell enough books to cover the cost of the trips.

Beth: Yes you will! After people watch this, buy her book.

Kathy: I first went to what was called Plymouth Plantation in the day back, and this will sound really strange, I guess, but on my honeymoon, because I knew of our family's connection to the Mayflower. My mother had suggested is the place where you might want to go. My husband, bless his heart, decided sure we'll go do that. I'm not positive about that, but I'm not even sure that the Native American village was there in 1970. If it was, I don't remember going through it. [00:22:00] This was 1969, a long time ago. Fast forward, I'm working on this book. I'm thinking, "Man, I'd love to go to England and do some research there because that's where the story starts."

I wanted to go to a little village in England called Scrooby, England because my mother had been there. My mother has since died, I inherited all of her research notes, and all of her mementos from their many trips, and included a postcard from Scrooby, England. I knew the place existed, and I knew that it had something to do with the Brewsters, but I really didn't know much about. We stayed at a bed and breakfast in Doncaster, with an authentic rural Englishman, as you will ever meet. We just had a wonderful experience when he found out that by now I am researching the book.

He pulled out the stops and gave us all kinds of information about local lore and that kind of thing. I went, we took pictures. Unfortunately, I had not yet made contacts with people directly connected with the Brewster or the Mayflower story in Scrooby. We did not get to get inside the church, or inside what's left of the Scrooby Manor, which is now under private ownership. I have since met a woman who does tours of those, and she lives in England. I don't know if I'll ever get back there or not. I have pictures and I have stories, and I have made connections.

I had done that research. Then I thought, "Well, I've done all I can do," and I've been back to Plymouth Plantation. It's since been renamed Plimoth Patuxet, which I personally think is wonderful, to give honor to the people who were there first. That was this Quantum's home village, but it was wiped out by the pandemic that rolled through right before the Mayflower showed up. I thought, "Well, I've done all the research I can do, the rest of it I'm going to have to do online and by interviewing people." My husband said, "There's a genealogy cruise coming up. That's been sponsored by I'd really like to do [00:24:00] that.

We can either sail from New York to England and fly back or fly over and come back on the ship as well." I said, "Well, I'm happy to do it either way, but if we're going to England, we're not going to fly and go to the airport and the ship and sail back. We're going to spend a few days there." He had always wanted to go to Cambridge. We added that to the list. Then I said, "As long as we're over here, we're going to take some time and go down across the channel to Leiden. I want to see where they live for 10 years before they came over here." We made those arrangements. Just a couple of days there, but oh, my gosh, I fell in love with that town.

I think I could live there. It's just a charming little city. Took a lot of pictures, and they are very proud of their connection to the Mayflower story. There's information all over town. There's a big church called Pierce Cook that is not directly connected to the Mayflower story, but they were like the host family or the host church for these people, and took them in and help them get settled. It has quit being a functional worshipping center a few years ago. They've turned it into a venue for concerts and lectures. The whole interior wall, the parameter of the place is one giant monument to the Mayflower story with pictures and timelines.

John Robinson, their pastor is buried there. There's a plaque about him on the wall. He never got to come over to the new world. He and Brewster once they sailed, that's it, they never saw each other again. Anyway, the research was absolutely fascinating. It unfolded over a period of several years. When you do this kind of research, you get into the kind of situation where every person you talk to tells you somebody else that you need to talk to, and you can easily drown in information. At some point, you have to just say, "I know there's more to know, but I can't know any more right now." [00:26:00] I just have to write down.

Beth: You just captured writing a book, right? Whether it's historical fiction or not. I can always do more. I can always shift this, but at some point, we have to let it go. I know what I would say to writers who are either just starting out, it doesn't have to be young, either. What is your advice to writers who are just starting out?

Kathy: Well, first of all, follow your passion. Everyone tells you to write about what you know about and that's not bad advice, but if you're passionate about something that you don't yet know about. There's lots of information available, and very easy to access today with the internet. Write about what you're passionate about, because you're going to be spending a lot of time with that subject or those people, or that setting, or whatever it is you're trying to write. Make sure you really like it. Get help. Don't spend too much time taking courses, learning the craft of writing, but take some because there are some kind of standards that will separate the amateurs from the professionals.

By the way, once you have published anything, you are a professionally published author, so you don't have to wait till you've sold 10 million copies of something. Join a network of some kind, whether it's virtual online, or it's a local writers community, or college group or something. Don't go it alone. The writing part, yes, you'll be alone a lot, but you also need to be around other people who understand what you're trying to do. Don't expect a lot of support and sympathy from your family. It's wonderful if you get it, but like this is your thing.

Beth: That's an excellent point.

Kathy: Yes. They may or may not get all enthusiastic about it. When I was writing the Mayflower book, I knew a lot more about people in the 1600s, and what was going on in their lives than I did with the people that I actually live with. My own family is like, [00:28:00] "Oh, yes, she's off doing her thing again. She'll resurface eventually."

Beth: It's true. I had stopped at one point writing, I don't remember why, and I left Angela, my main character in some precarious situation. I was on a walk, I think with Kevin, and he's like, "Where are you? Where's your head? I'm just like, "I'm sorry, it's just that I have to get Angela out of there, because she's really suffering." He's like, "Are you talking about your book?" I have to get her out of there. Yes. You're absolutely right.

Kathy: Right. You definitely live in two worlds while you're in the throes of writing a book, but you just have to remember, they're not there with you. They're still in the 21st century and doing whatever their normal life is.

Beth: Maybe you don't want them with you either, because everybody has an opinion. That's something I've learned, is that for my beta readers, my thing, you need to have beta readers.

Kathy: Yes. Absolutely.

Beth: Don't live in a vacuum. Make sure you have multiple people reading your work.

Kathy: Not your family.

Beth: Right. If two people say the same thing about something in the book, then I will take a look at it. If one person says, "Well, I don't like the way she was standing behind the tree versus next to it" I'm like, "Thank you." Always I'm very grateful for everything I am. My thoughts are that, be very serious about what you're doing, but do not take yourself too seriously. The people and the idea of, it's the same way in the opera world. Walking around with an ascot does not make you an opera singer. Walking around being, "Oh, I'm so burdened with all my thoughts does not make you a good writer." Take your writing seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously.

Kathy: Come up for air once in a while, and go do something that's not about the writing.

Beth: Yes. From a more nuts and bolts point of view, [00:30:00] genre matters. I say that because a lot of people when they write, they think, "Well, I'm crossing three genres or I'm writing something that is not--" You cannot stick it into a genre. Genre matters because [crosstalk].

Kathy: In the book, you can't figure out what's the format. [[laughs].

Beth: Right. [crosstalk] If you enter a competition for your book if you enter a contest, which genre do you pick? So genre matters. The last thing I was going to add is that you can write marketable fiction or nonfiction, but you can write marketable fiction and still be literary. This is what I've experienced since I've been going down this road that people are like, "Well, is it literary or is it a thriller? Why can't it be a literary thriller? Make it a thriller."

A lot of people think they're selling out if they write something a lot of people are going to be drawn to but there's a reason that these people are still, I'm not going to name names. The writers who are really successful, they're still writing because their formula works. You can still be a really good writer and have a formula.

Kathy: There are certain authors, I think we probably all have at least a handful of authors that were waiting for them to get the next book out there because we so enjoy reading what they've come up with.

Beth: Right. I think that that's something, especially when you're starting out, people tend to get wrapped up. Those are my thoughts. What is your hope for Mayflower Chronicles: A Tale of Two Cultures? What do you hope happens with your book?

Kathy: Well, my real hope is that people will have a greater appreciation for the value of the Native American population and how we could have done it so much better than we did. While we can't go back and redo history, I believe we can learn from it and do much better going forward. That's my [00:32:00] big first hope. My second hope is that it becomes supplemental reading in college and high school history and maybe social science classes. Because I did try to make the Native American people, in particular, real human beings that we can identify with, that have really suffered.

My hope is that we will have more appreciation for the women and the Native Americans and a real appreciation of what they really went through. It wasn't just they got on a ship, they sailed over here, and they found a turkey and they had a feast. There's a lot more involved in that. In learning from that, then we will both appreciate what we have today that they did not have. Also, that we will really be more motivated to be more charitable towards people who don't look and talk and act and dress like we do. There's room for many, many, many different kinds of people.

Beth: Amen.

Kathy: How about for you? What are your hopes for your book?

Beth: Well, I'd like you to become a New York Times bestseller.

Kathy: Well, there you go.

Beth: Anyone who's watching or listening can help with that. I'd be very grateful. I would like everyone who reads Devil's Grace to leave a review, even if it's just stars, and it can be one star or it can be five stars, on Amazon and/or Goodreads because, believe it or not, those stars matter. They matter in terms of whether my book or your book pops up as a recommended read for people. That's what I would really love. Now, in terms of the message, I didn't get into it at all in this podcast but the book really, ultimately, is about compassion, kindness, grace, fortitude. Angela loses everything in 24 hours and she would have every right to give up on life, or be very angry and lash out but she doesn't. She constantly over and over chooses [00:34:00] forgiveness.

Kathy: For the people who show up to help are not the ones that you would've expected to show up to help. [laughs].

Beth: Yes, that's true. The people that you think are good in the story may not be and the people that just you don't give any thought to-- To your point about the Native Americans. One of the most important people in the book is the assistant in the morgue. It's only one scene but it's one of my favorite scenes because as Angela is turning to leave she turns back to thank the morgue assistant when she was viewing her son and her husband's bodies to identify them. She thanks her. She says, "Thank you for taking care of my husband and my son." The morgue assistant is shocked that she's being thanked. It says that no one thanked her before.

That's one of my favorite scenes in the book because so often the people that we don't pay any attention to, the trash collectors, the morgue assistants, they're just as important as everyone else but they deserve to be recognized. Kindness, compassion, empathy, that's what comes across in the book and that's what I hope people take away from the book. I've talked to a bunch of people who have said the spiritual aspects of the book have touched them.

I was shocked at how deeply it touched them, and how they would stop and cry for their own loss, and then they would pick up the book again and keep reading. I had lunch with a woman. I was shocked. She was just like, "It changed the way I'm thinking about those who have passed." That's what I hope, actually. Tongue-in-cheek, of course, I want it to sell but it's the people that reach out that have been touched by it that make the most impact on me, honestly. [crosstalk].

Kathy: I would like to piggyback on what you said, the reviews, it's not about our egos it's about the modern publishing world. I did a presentation last night for a writers group that I belong to. One statistic I stumbled upon was: we are now releasing 2,700 [00:36:00] titles a day because anybody with a Wi-Fi and computer can become an author, and they are. In order to get any traction in that world, I think the magic number with Amazon algorithms is 50. Until you hit 50 reviews, Amazon figures, "Ah, just another person in the corner with a computer. Who cares?"

Once you get 50 or over, then they start thinking, "Oh, well, people are actually paying attention to this book." Then they start recommending it. That's really, really, really helpful. It doesn't have to be a wonderful review. It just has to be a review. It's a numbers game.

Beth: It doesn't need words. It can be stars. People are like, "Oh, I want to craft something." I'm like, "No. No crafting." I read something, I forget the guy's name, but anyway, he said, there's a stat that is 80% to 90% of all people writing books will not sell more than 1,000 copies. Which is not surprising because there are, what? Four big publishing houses now, maybe five.

Kathy: There's five but they're talking about merging two of them, so yes.

Beth: All of them are putting money goes to the names that are already out there. That is our very kind way of saying-

Kathy: Well, and two of the things you can do that won't cost you anything is support your local library because we really need library and librarians. The Barrington Library already has our books but if you are a patron of any other library, all you have to do is call and ask if they're carrying the title. Because that gets them into the computer catalog where they become at least aware that the book exists because again they're inundated with thousands of titles to choose from. Just call in asking and do the same thing for your local bookstore. That gets the computer open and they see it.

Beth: Is there anything else you want to add because these kinds of people who are listening we've taken a bunch of their time? Is there anything else that [00:38:00] you want to mention that we didn't cover?

Kathy: I think just thank you. Thank you for supporting your library. Keep it up. Thank you for listening to us ramble on about the life of an author and now we met each other.

Beth: Anyway, thank you so much, Kathy. I will see you soon.


Jessica: That does it for this week's episode of Rhody Radio. On behalf of Barrington Public Library and Rhody Radio, I thank you for listening. If you are interested in borrowing a copy of Devil's Grace or Mayflower Chronicles, contact your local library. Special thanks goes to Beth and Kathy, for recording their conversation and for their willingness to share it with our library patrons and Rhody Radio listeners like you. Thanks also goes to the Friends of Barrington Public Library for sponsoring this week's episode. Join the friends and support the programs you love. Learn more at

Today's theme music is Flower Duet from the opera Lakmé, performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra. Don't forget our episodes drop every Tuesday at 9:00 AM. Each week is a new voice from your neighbors around the state. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow us on Twitter at Rhody Radio or on Facebook at Rhody Radio Online. Until next time, happy reading.

Amy: Rhody Radio is a project of the Office of Library and Information Services and [00:40:00] is supported by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.


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