First-time author goes for romance

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 2, 2011

By Deirdre Parker Smith
SALISBURY — Mary Kitchens always told her daughter, Mary Kitchens, that she should sit down and write a book.
When she finally did, it was a romance novel, called “Shanna’s Chance,” published by Tate Publishing.
But her mother passed away beore she could read it. Mary Kitchens the author, who is known as Kitch, is “sure she read it up in heaven somewhere.”
Nothing about the characters has any resemblance to her parents, Kitch says, except for one thing. “The devotion the character Chance has for Shanna reflects the devotion my Dad had for my mother.
“As soon as Dad saw Mom, he told everyone he was going to marry her — she took a little convincing.”
Kitch says she grew up in a household “where people loved each other so much, it made me have a different outlook on what a romance should be.”
But she didn’t start the book with that in mind. She just sat down at the keyboard, with no idea who the characters were or where they were going.
“I just started typing.”
Did she know it was going to be a romance novel? Maybe.
“I’m an avid reader … some authors get too graphic in horror scenes and love scenes. I like the old horror films from the ’40s, where you just see the shadow. I’ll lead you to it, but you gotta open the door.”
She grew up in a strict Catholic family, with high standards. Her father, Henry Kitchens, died in 2004; her mother died in February 2010. They had just celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary when her father died.
Two friends kept Kitch writing. She sent them a few pages at a time. “They were very encouraging, that’s why I thank them in the book.”
She says as she got toward the end, “I never knew from one day to next, it was like sitting around the campfire at Girl Scout camp making up scary stories. I was not sure how was I going to end it.”
The only character based on a real personality is Thomas the cat. “Thomas was my cat. He was 24 when he passed away. … All my friends know him instantly when they started reading.”
Then it was time to do something with the manuscript. She considered self-publishing, but felt there’s still a stigma attached to that.
So she started looking on the Internet and found Tate Publishing, which accepts manuscripts without an agent.
She also found Dorrance Publishing, so she sent it to both. (Editor’s note: Both publishers have received a fair number of complaints about their service).
“Ten days later, I got an email from Tate saying they were sending me a contract overnight.
“I sat there and stared at the email, and didn’t know what to do. The next day I got the contract, which suggested take it to an attorney before I signed it and I did.”
She called the woman who signed the letter and asked if she read the book. The woman said yes and told her they liked it enough to publish it, even if it was a romance.
“Tate has been really good to me, they arranged the book signings, did press releases.” Kitch will sign books Sept. 10, 1-3 p.m. at Tastebuds Coffee and Tea in downtown Salisbury and then at Dilworth Coffee on Sept 17, 1-3 p.m.
With purchase of the book, you get a code to download the free audiobook.
She’s almost finished with a second book. “The second one has more intrigue, also a dog” modeled after her Lab, who lived to be 16 and loved playing with the cat.
She writes whenever she’s in the mood. “I just get the urge and stop what I’m doing to type. I was amazed where all of it was hiding in the gray matter and that it continued and was fluid.”