Catherine Townsend-Lyon is a Best Selling Author of The Kodel Publishing Group with her shocking debut memoir titled; “Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” Catherine’s Memoir is both in-depth and raw as she takes readers on a journey of many important topics that ‘touched’ her life, starting as a little girl into adulthood.
She had taken a dark path, trying to elude the past childhood pain and traumatic events. She began using gambling as a coping skill and escape into a “dream world” to forget, if only for a few hours from the haunting memories of her childhood sex abuse, parental verbal and physical abuse, and lived with undiagnosed mental/emotional illness for years. Shaping the “perfect storm, she became addicted to gambling with alcohol abuse. So, something like gambling to be for fun and entertainment became her worst nightmare and almost took her life, twice!
Now in recovery nearly ten years, Catherine has become well known in the addiction/recovery communities, and is a loud advocate of gambling addiction, mental health, and the expansion of Indian Casinos and State Lottery offerings that needs to stop across America. Catherine’s featured in many media and recovery publications like Columbia University’s Media Release through the 2×2 Project “Gambling with America’s Health. And most recently interviewed for Time Magazine online article coming in August 2016. She currently writes a column for “In Recovery Magazine’s-The Author’s Cafe” and a freelance writer for Keys To Recovery newspaper. She is also an “Expert Gambling Recovery Blogger” for “Addictionland” of Founder/Author, Cate Stevens along with other recovery experts along with other recovery experts like Christopher Lawford Kennedy and Tommy Rosen.
Catherine lives in Arizona and So. Oregon. She is married to her husband for 26 years. She is a ‘Cat Lover’ and has three, Princess, Boots, and Simon Peter.She enjoys reading, cooking, gardening, and swimming. She owns an online business called: “Lyon Book & Social Media Promotions.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.
Why did you write and disclose personal family experiences? Were you afraid of backlash or judgment from family and others?
Well, I feel that is what writing a memoir is all about. Since my book is about my life of many topics including gambling addiction and recovery, I wanted readers to have an inside view of how our family life growing up can later become some of the reason some may turn to addiction in the first place.
I, nor many do not grow up in an “angelic” family dynamic. Some grow up in a dysfunctional or abusive situations. That was my experience, and later became added “fuel” to my addiction. I wanted to “set the back story” so to speak so readers had an understanding of how many of us turn to addictions instead of knowing there are places we can get help like through counseling or therapy when your “past comes back later in life haunting you.”
As far as backlash, family needs to understand the memoir is not about them, it about how I was affected by how I was raised and disciplined. I was also sexually abused as a little girl, and I stuffed that away for years without my parents knowing until adulthood. You will have to read my book to learn how all that turned out. So, you have to brave enough to share the good, the bad, and all the ugly if you are going to write a memoir without worry of backlash. I am trying to help others through my book. For me, that is what I focused on.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
Not really. My first book came very easy for me. And believe or not I hand wrote the memoir in 6 spiral notebooks. At that time, I was not writing a book, I was writing for myself to heal and to see all that gambling addiction and alcohol abuse had taken from my life. The book part and becoming published happened a year later as “divine intervention” I say.
I am almost done with books two and three. And I am doing them the same way. Thank goodness I have an exceptional editor! The only weird thing is I love writing when it’s raining. But I am not an outline or draft type of writer. I just let the words flow out of me onto paper.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I can thankfully say no to this question. One of the best pieces of advice I had received from another writer was, “write what you know.”
Unfortunately, I know much about gambling addiction, recovery, mental health challenges, and childhood trauma. All these topics have ‘touched’ my life and I advocate about passionately …
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
I would have to pass on what was told to me in the above answer “write what you know or I feel what you are passionate about.” If you love animals? Write an animal children’s book. If you have an open imagination? Write a thriller or mystery. An action or adventure story.
I am a writer and author “by accident,” Lol. So I feel funny giving other aspiring authors advice. I am a book promoter for many fine authors of all genres as well, so one piece of advice I can give to first-time authors? Your book takes many hours, days, and months to promote. Book sales and book reviews will not happen overnight, so don’t give up or get discouraged. KEEP Writing!
What are your current/future projects?
I do have 2 projects on am working on. My second book is almost complete and will be a follow up to my memoir and a helpful resource for those starting recovery from gambling addiction on how to make their first year in recovery.
The third will be a stab at fiction from me about a woman who is being chased by her “addiction demons” in recovery and takes a Lighthouse Keepers job on the North Oregon coast looking to start life over and for some solitude and serenity in her life. But her past comes calling!
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I actually start my current book out with the reason how and why I came to start writing in the first place. It was about a suicide of a woman I read about in our local newspaper. But, no spoilers here. LOL. You need to read my book titled; ‘Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat,’ which is now listed here on Author Shout, and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million.
Again, I write what I know…. Lol.
Balance is a challenge for me to fit my own writing time in as I book promote for other authors. It is why it has taken me two years to get my next books done and published. So I am still a “one book wonder” at this point.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
Well, we all know indie and self-published authors are changing the landscape of the “traditional” way authors get published these days. You no longer have to be a published by one of the big publishing houses anymore. Now, that is not to say there most likely are some self-published or indie books that may not be very appealing. (No offense to authors). As I have read a few myself and the authors are no writers, LOL.
However, there are awesome writers and authors producing some fantastic works and it is refreshing to see that all authors can now be noticed and praised for work well done! That is part of the change with being able to self-publish.
I have promoted authors that were picked up and offered a publishing contract.
So the traditional publishing houses are finding many good writers and authors.
That is a great thing.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
My current book was picked up by a publishing firm. But my publisher is a smaller independent publisher. I did, however, receive an awesome offer when it came to my royalty share. They are more like a “self-publish” helper. I had an editor and designer for my current book already, so they just did my format, typesetting, and upload through Amazon’s Create Space for the paperback, and KDP for my e-book.
Going this route was the least inexpensive way to publish. Now a days most publishers won’t do any book promoting for authors except maybe send out a press release about the new book, so authors Beware … Be ready to promote your books on your own. I do all my own book promoting throughout social media and PR releases through NPR services. Authors can promote for free at many book sites.
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?
No. The only change or difference that I made was to my book cover. I have two different covers that are the same, but my e-book cover has different colors. I wanted my e-book cover to have more vibrant Las Vegas catching colors.
That was about the only change.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
Being a person living in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol for 10 years now, publishing my book was my way of helping others with the problems as I had and was the only way I knew how to help others, by sharing my story and give others HOPE that they to can recover from this cunning and devastating illness.
Many blessings and doors have opened for me to share my voice and have a platform to help inform, educate, and raise awareness of addicted and problem gambling. I want those who have never been touched by addiction at all have more understand and empathy for those who suffer. The opportunities that have come from people seeing and reading my book are
I am a new recovery columnist for a premier magazine called; “In Recovery Magazine.” My column is called; “The Author’s Cafe”. I am also a writer for a recovery newspaper out of So. California called; “Keys To Recovery News” and I am an expert gambling addiction and recovery blogger on “Addictionland.”
I have a few more, but I am ‘humbled and thankful’ for all the opportunities that have come my way. These offerings help keep me in recovery as well.
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?
Now this question is an easy answer! Lol.
Since I market, promote, and advertise books for authors and my own book for living, I have a whole page of book promoting and marketing advice on my “Lyon Book & Social Media Promotions” website here
Book promoting doesn’t have to costly. It’s why I share much of it on my website. I want to be able to help new authors learn ‘how and where’ to promote their books. Many of the sites are free or you can do low-cost book ads or book promotions and giveaway’s. There is no shortage of authors needing help as they continue to write more books, and why among other reasons why they hire me to promote their books.
My number one valuable tip? Layer your book ads when your book first releases. That way you will find your readership through many book promo sites like Awesomegang.com or Bookgoodies.net . . . . Just a couple of my “go to places.”
If you are a self-published author, which platform do you prefer? (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Author House, or something not mentioned), and why?
My book is listed on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Author House, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-million.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
My current book is a Memoir of my life with many topics discussed throughout which I mentioned above.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
I carry a spiral notebook or my laptop with me everywhere I go!
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?
Now that I am working on books two and three, I am trying to keep both within 300 to under 500 pages. I also let my editor worry about that! Lol.
How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
Yes. My writing has evolved so much since I wrote my first book. I feel the more you write, the better you get. Now that I am writing more as a profession as well, I have taken some webinars and use a writing software to make sure I continue to become a more seasoned writer.
I would hope to think writing my book and my recovery blog for my book and where I continue to write my recovery journey is helping others. We just never know who our story will touch or help. I wanted others who still suffer or are stuck in the “cycle” of gambling addiction that ‘Suicide Is Not An Option to Stop Gambling Addiction.’
Like the woman read about in my local newspaper. And like my own two failed suicide attempts when I was deep in my addiction. Suicide is never the answer.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
As a reader myself, page count doesn’t matter. The book cover I feel is part of showcasing your book, so it needs to grab the reader. Same goes with the book title. The content of a book is what we as a writer offers up to the reader. If your content and story keep a reader interested in the first chapter, they might feel some “buyers remorse.” That won’t bode well for future books you publish.
Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?
Yes, I do feel a press release is very important and has value. Many first time authors can not afford mainstream advertising or hire a PR firm. So a press release sent out through PR websites is a good way to let people and media places know about your book releasing. I do them for my book promoting clients as some PR websites let you send a couple out for free.
A few I like and use are NPR, PR.com, and NewswireToday.com are some good ones. I get some good results in books sales and book reviews.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
Of course, there is value to book reviews for many reasons. Readers who shop for books lets say on Amazon, they look and read reviews before they buy a book. I know as a reader I do. And, Amazon emails me when someone reads a review I have placed and tells me it helped them decide to purchase.
Reviews on Amazon also helps your books rankings among other books in your same genre. Rankings tell us as authors how our books sell and compare to other books sold on Amazon. When a reader takes the time to write a review after they read my memoir, I use that as well if they leave suggestions to improve my craft as a writer.
What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?
Sadly this does happen in our industry. Authors feel like book reviews are they only way they will sell more books if their rankings are high for instance on Amazon. There are many, many ways to accomplish that besides book reviews.
Now paying for paying for reviews? I have mixed feelings about this. I feel there are plenty of real avid readers who would be happy to get a free or gifted book from Amazon from an author for a real honest book review. There are also many book promotion sites I have come to trust that also will do a book review after reading the authors work for a minimal fee.
But I have come across some places that are charging anywhere from $99 to $345 for a “sold calledProfessional Review.” If it is not an Editorial Review for that price, I wouldn’t do it. I would never pay that much for a book review. Nor do I advise my own book promoting author clients. I do however, feel authors helping each other out by “gifting” and swapping books and doing reviews for each other is a great way to receive book reviews.
Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?
I have not had this experience.
Have you ever had an interesting, funny, or even bad experience during a live interview, reading, event, or autograph session?
Actually yes. I was a Guest Author and speaker called; “God Allows U-Turns” a radio show out of Florida. We were in the middle of the interview as I was answering a question about spirituality in recovery when our phone line went dead! We literally were cut off. The phones went dead.
So when the host called me right back, we were laughing as he said that had never ever happened in all his years hosting his show. I told him “maybe God didn’t like my answer!” We both laughed and agreed GOD was obviously with us in Spirit! Lol.
With self publishing being so easy these days, do you believe there is an over abundance of books out there and how do you sort through all the hype or copycats?
Good question. I guess I would have to say that if you believe in your craft as a writer, and as an author create good content, then you don’t need to worry about other writers and what they put out. Readers and the reviews will tell you if they feel this way about your books.
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
This question goes back to how I answered your very First Question.
I sat on my manuscript for almost a year because of fear. It is more difficult being afraid of how readers would react to my memoir as it is based on truth and is a real story and facts. I also had some fear about what my family would think even though I have been estranged from them for years. But I decided it wasn’t for or about them. My book was about healing and forgiveness for me and insight for readers.
What is the intended audience for you book?
People in or reaching out to recover from gambling addiction, awareness of mental health, and those who had been sexually or physically abused, went through childhood trauma. Also for readers who want more understanding about these issues.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
A message of HOPE to others who suffer from addiction of any kind. We can recover no matter how bad or how far addiction has taken you. We all have that tiny sliver of light within us to turn our lives around if we want it bad enough.
Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?
The Internet has changed not only the landscape of how authors can easily promote their books throughout social media, but the Internet has also changed how people can find information to get help from addiction and recovery support.
As a book promoter as my in-home business, the Internet has allowed me to work from home and make an income as I have Agoraphobia and Mood Disorder. It has changed the way we do many things for school, work, and not just the book selling and publishing industry.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Yes, I read every review I get. I can tell you my current has averaged from Amazon’s Rate scale 1-5, my book is still at 4.8 out of 5 stars. So I must have done something right as a writer. So I have not experienced or had to deal with a bad book review …. Yet. Lol.
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
Taking on paid writing jobs has boosted my self-confidence as a writer. That also helped me get the offer to be a columnist at “In Recovery Magazine.” And why I write for several other addiction/recovery publications. For me, it is two-fold. I become a better writer and I have great platforms to showcase my writing while helping others recover.
What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
Well, my third book is fiction, but I am not far enough in my storyline to really say as it is still dealing with addiction and recovery. I think I would like to try my hand at a romance novel in the future.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
Since my book is a memoir, all the people are real, and I only changed a few of the real names of persons I wrote about as I did not get permission to use their real names.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
I really can’t answer this directly as my book was written very unconventional. When I was writing at the time, I wasn’t writing a book. That all happened later on.
I do however recommend using a writing aide software which I do use.
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?
I am really boring in this area. I really didn’t enjoy reading until later in adulthood. I wasn’t a “Catcher In Rye” kind of reader. I enjoyed more contemporary reads by Stephen King and Nora Roberts. However, as a teen, I did love writing poems but never thought much about the “writing” aspect of it.
What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?
I love e-books. Since I have to read a lot of books of my new book promoting authors, e-books give me the freedom to read in between my promoting. Now my
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
All of the above. Especially for therapy and a recovery outlet.
Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?
God created editors for a reason. Lol. My editor was Julie Hall. She works for our local newspaper in Grants Pass, Oregon. She isn’t an editor by profession. But she edits and proofreads for the newspaper. She had taken my six notebooks and performed “magic.” Then she sent the first 50 pages to a publisher friend of hers, and that is how my book made it to being published.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
Cost. Traditional publishing can be very expensive. And many first-time authors may not be able to afford it. That is where self-publishing comes in. There are several good places who offer self-publish services low-cost or even free. Amazon’s Create Space, KDP, and Smashwords are just a few.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
Recovery and helping others what inspires me to write. If I can help others by sharing my story through words and my experiences? That makes me happy.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
No. I used who my publisher had at the time. She did a good job.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
Since I do write a lot and for several publications, coming up with new topics to write about can be a challenge. Writing is very freeing to me. I enjoy it and hope do continue writing and publishing more books to help others and for readers to also enjoy.
Books by Catherine Townsend-Lyon
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