Thursday, December 2, 2010

Today's Special - - Kathryn Caskie

We are so pleased to welcome the lovely and talented Kathryn Caskie to The Romance Dish today! Kathryn is no stranger to writing. She's written for television, radio, newspapers, magazines and is the published author of ten historical romance novels and one novella. Her love of history doesn't end with her books either. Kathryn and her family live in a 200 year-old Quaker home in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. If that isn't enough, in the summer of 2009, Kathryn married her very own romance hero in a castle in Scotland! And he wore a kilt! ::Sigh::

For more information about Kathryn, visit her website and "like' her at facebook. Be sure to check out Gannon's review of Kathryn's new release, The Duke's Night of Sin here.

Please join us in giving a warm Romance Dish welcome to Kathryn Caskie!

Plotting vs. Pantsering During the Holidays
By Kathryn Caskie

I finished ALL of my holiday shopping before Thanksgiving. I actually planned to do it that way because my latest book, The Duke’s Night of Sin, was just released and I knew I would be crazy busy with a signings, events and blogs during December.

So, I made my plan, drew up my list and I stuck to it. Now, this mightn’t sound like some incredible feat to you, but for me, it was nothing less than a Herculean task (I have a huge family and that means lots of gifts to buy). And, I did it!

But as an author, it also made me wonder if maybe, just maybe, I could be a plotter after all. I had conquered holiday shopping after all—with a plan.

If you know me, you know I am a pantser through and through (though I prefer Jo Beverly’s term of ‘one who flies into the mist’). I’ve never been able to plot a book, though I have tried, boy have I tried, with every one of my ten published novels. I’ve taken classes, and have had a couple of promising starts, but then one of my characters bolts and I have to chase them down, wherever they might be headed. Then boom, Dorothy, we aren’t in Kansas anymore. So much for the plot. I’ve got a witch to deal with now and I didn’t see her coming.

But this holiday shopping thing has me thinking. I made a detailed plan and I stuck to it, and more importantly—I met my deadline. Hmm. Is it possible that something in my DNA has changed and now I could become a plotter?

I think we all come into this world born plotters, at least when it comes to the holidays. Gift-getting is pretty serious stuff for kids. They aren’t going to chance getting underwear and socks, even though that’s what they need. Nope, not when with a little planning, and a neatly penned letter to Santa, or an email to loved-ones with a link to the neon blue Paper Jamz guitar they want, result in much cooler outcomes.

But then, something changes as we get older. Adults usually don’t make a wishlist and when asked what we’d like, we can never come up with anything. We are pantsers when it comes to the holidays. And what do we get? Socks. Flowery potholders. Candles. A sweater with a kitty on it.

Oh, sure, we can always exchange our gift to get what we really wanted. We can play detective and try to figure out if the gift really came from the store stamped on the box. We can crowd surf through the swarms of shoppers who decided not to re-gift but to return. Then there’s the fight that ultimately breaks out over of the last 60% off cashmere sweaters. And the looming question, will you leave the mall with anything at all, let alone the Tudors, Season 3 DVD.

Wouldn’t the process have been easier if we could have just handed our families and friends a short list?

This is how I think about plotting. I think plotting can get you to The End faster in a much more organized way.

But isn’t being a pantser a little more exciting?

Are you a plotter (Martha Stewart) or a pantser (Lucille Ball) during the holidays? The three most amusing comments (USA only, sorry) will win the first two books in the Seven Deadly Sins series, To Sin With a Stranger and The Most Wicked of Sins. Winners will be chosen by the Dishes.


  1. Congrats on the new release. I'm a plotter with most things, but somehow I end up a pantser during the holidays. I try to buy presents all year round. I always scramble to finish the shopping list before Christmas Eve and sometimes just end up buying gift cards.

  2. Kathryn

    I am soo looking forward to this new book I do so love your stories.

    Oh how I wish I had finished my shopping I haven't even started yet LOL.

    I always have a plan but it never works to my plan I have made one Chrissy cake I have another 5 to make and I haven't even started on the cards yet and I have 5 grandchildren to buy for, see so much to do and so little time. I think I am a panster although I do try to be a plotter.

    Have Fun

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  4. Hi Kathryn!
    It's great to see you here on the Dish, and congrats on your new release! I am definitely looking forward to reading The Duke's Night of Sin.

    As for me, when it comes to the holidays, I tend to be more of a planner, though in other aspects of my life, I am more of a procrastinator/pantser. I always try to have my list together by Thanksgiving, or the first week of December. This year, I'm almost done my shopping. At this point,I don't beat around the bush-I just ask everyone straight out to tell me what they want. Since it's usually requests for books/DVDs/CDs, I just order it off Amazon in early December, and I'm good to go. As for cards, I usually will spend a weekend afternoon knocking those out and usually have them in the mail by the 15th.

    Also, since I totally suck at gift wrapping, I don't even bother anyone. I either give the present straight out of the Amazon box, or I put it in a gift bag. In fact, my sister used to wrap my gifts, but she stopped when I didn't reciprocate so now when it comes to my gifts, she just gives it to me right out of the Amazon box too, lol.

  5. Lord knows I try to be a Martha Stewart and plan everything but my family is always throwing a monkey wrench into my well thought out plans.

    I know things are good if I don't have to take a xanax if everything is planned out and goes off like clock work but I have to admit it is the unplanned things that really make life a bit more exciting. I feel like I am on the game show Beat the Clock sometimes and I think the host must have shortened the time I was given.

    I just about have all the gifts bought (thank goodness for the internet) but I don't have the first decoration up yet.
    Sacrilege I know, I usually have the tree lit and wreaths on the door by Thanksgiving evening but it was 80 degrees Thanksgiving and I just wasn't feeling it as my kids would say.
    I will make sure and get the tree up by this weekend though.

    I loved the review Gannon gave for THE DUKE"S NIGHT OF SIN. I can't wait to grab a copy.

  6. Good Morning! Welcome, Kathryn!

    It's a cold morning here and beginning to feel like Christmas though you wouldn't know it looking at my house. All my well-planned decorating activities flew out the window when a stomach virus landed over Thanksgiving and lots of extra work hours landed on my schedule in the days since. I started the season as a well-organized plotter but I'm pretty sure I'll be ending it as an edge-of-the-seat pantser! lol!

    Looking forward to reading your new book, Kathryn. It's been a great series!

  7. Jane, I've gone the gift card route the past few years for the teen and twenty-something family members but I'm trying to buy actual gifts this year. We'll see how well I do! ;-)

  8. I'm about half done with my shopping, Helen but I'm with you. I want to be finished!

    I'm trying to remember...are your Chrissy cakes what we call fruitcakes?

  9. Hi Lisa!

    I'm usually much more organized but I took a part-time holiday job this year which has turned into full-time hours and that's thrown a major kink in my holiday shopping, wrapping, baking and Christmas cards schedule. I'm thinking people may get "Happy New Year" cards from me this year instead of "Merry Christmas!" LOL!

  10. I have to admit it is the unplanned things that really make life a bit more exciting.

    I so agree, Gigi! I've learned to embrace those unplanned things the older I've gotten.

    Like you, I normally have the house completely decorated by the end of Thanksgiving weekend but I haven't put up the first decoration yet. Soon!

  11. Good morning, Kathryn! I would call my self a plotser---a pantser and plotter combo. I have to plan a little (emphasis on the word little), but I'm very big on going with the flow, listening to that little voice, etc.

    I love the Seven Deadly Sins series! And if being a pantser is the way you write, it works beautifully, so don't stop. LOL

  12. When it comes to gift buying I'm definitely a pantser. I hate to shop but when I do shop I like unique gifts. I recently visited a museum in Madison. Who knew their gift store was a treasure chest of delightful gifts for my family members? I was thrilled with the bangle bracelets for my daughter, the note cards for my great aunt, the stuffed animals for my sons, the paper weight for my mom, pretty earrings, purses, belts, scarves etc. Gifts from around the world!!!
    I even found cute Christmas ornaments, reindeer wine stoppers!

    I'm going back every year !

  13. I have to plan a little (emphasis on the word little), but I'm very big on going with the flow, listening to that little voice, etc.

    Gannon, I've become much more adept at "going with the flow" in recent years. Makes for a much happier holiday! :)

  14. Laurie, sounds like you found the mother lode at the museum store. I love unusual, unique gifts. We have a small gift boutique in town that always has the best stuff. I love shopping there...a little too much! lol!

  15. At last I am here! Our internet has been down all morning, so I finally broke down and went to Starbucks. I am going to bring latte's and eat cookie until my husband calls and tells me we're up again. Better be soon or I will have already blown my resolve to eat healthy during the holidays!

  16. PJ, I sent Happy New Year cards last year, with pictures of our family over 2009. I just could not get it together in time to manage Christmas cards. But, I tell you, the Happy New Year cards was so positive, I am going to do it again.

    THough my daughter asked me if we could Photoshop some celebrities into the shots for fun. I said "Why not!"

  17. Gannon, the plotster, do you think people can really change, it is in their DNA?

    I would love to be plotter, seems a less stressful way of writing, but I just can't do it.

  18. Okay, Kathy, that settles it. New Year's cards it is! That way, I can also include pictures of my niece's wedding in Florida the week before Christmas. (another reason I'm on a shortened schedule this year)

    I love the idea of photoshopping celebrities into your photos! What fun! Have they chosen who will be added yet?

    Sorry about the internet problem. We've been having brown-outs here (cold temps). Yesterday, my computer shut down four times. So frustrating. At least you have lattes and cookies to console you! *g*

  19. It's cold here too and supposed to get colder. Might switch over to hot chocolate. I never make it at home unless there's a blizzard.

    Pj, one suggestion for the card was to add Dexter. I think we'll have to talk about which celebrities to include.

  20. Helen please post your Chrissy Cake recipe. I lived in Australia for a few years when I was young and remember a fruit cake/Chrissy Cake that was so yummy. Then I found it had been aged and had a lot of brandy in it. Mom's Apple Pie, here in Virginia, sells an aged fruit cake that is almost as good, but they use rum.

    See how I am trying to get organized for next year? Too late, perhaps, to start an aged fruit cake now.

  21. Hi Kathryn!

    Every year, I make a list on what to get everyone in my family and then end up buying the gifts a week or two before Christmas Day, making sure to check it off my list. I make lists for a lot of things or else I simply cannot function. Being in school and working means a lot of deadlines and if I don't write it down, it will probably not get done. I am a major procrastinator on some things, but I will get it done.

  22. Kathy, I did New Year's cards last year, too. I always get behind schedule, but I think people appreciate getting a card after the holidays, don't you? Looks like New Year's cards will be in style again this year. LOL

    I couldn't be a straight up plotter either. I'm sure it may make life easier, but it's just not me. :-)

  23. I think the reason I managed to get all of my gift-buying before Thanksgiving is because I did something very non-pantser of me. I made a spreadsheet and put a copy of on my phone so I could update. I am sure there is a gift app, but I didn't think about that. Anyway, once I had the spreadsheet I was shopping fiend.

    TrishaM, I think you are right about lists making you able to function during busy times, I just need to try to use them in everyday life! I want to be a plotter.

  24. Yes PJ our Christmas cakes are yummy fruit cakes.

    Kathryn WOW you lived here in Australia how wonderful. I live in Sydney where did you live while here.

    My Christmas Cake reciepe is a fairly easy one and very moist and yummy.

    Melt & Mix Christmas Cake.

    1.5 kg mixed fruit
    1/2 cup sherry or brandy
    1 green apple
    1 tablespoon of honey or golden syrup
    1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
    4 large eggs
    250g butter
    1 1/2 cups plain flour
    1/2 cup self raising flour
    1 teaspoon mixed spice
    2 tablespoons sherry or rum extra
    Place mixed fruit in large basin add sherry peeled coursly grated apple honey sugar and eggs, mix well with wooden spoon or hand to break up any large clumps of fruit. Add cooled melted butter and sifted flours and spice, mix thoroughly. Place into deep 23cm round or deep 20cm square cake tin which has been lined with three sheets of greasproof paper. Make sure paper stands up around the edge of tin to a height of about
    2in this is to protect the top of the cake during cooking time.
    Bake in slow oven for 3 1/2 hours or until cooked when tested. Remove from oven brush evenly with sherry or brandy cover tightly with foil leave until cold. Remove from tin leaving lining paper intact. Wrap cake tightly in plastic wrap then in foil store in cool dark place or in refrigerator.This cake will keep for approx 3 months

    If anyone tries this cake I do hope you enjoy it as much as my family does. I have to make one today hopefully it all goes to plan LOL

    Have Fun

  25. I plot, I plan, I revise & fine tune & update. It can be wonderful and pratically perfect. An ideal attack all ready to go. But (isn't there always a but?) when it comes time to actually implement the plan, I start roughly from scratch, reshuffle the cards, see what happens and go off from there to where ever I end up. As for the plan? Who knows were it may be or which mental version was most recent or what was on that pratically perfect plan? Not me. When it comes down to it, I like to think I could be a plotter, but I'm at heart a carefree doer :)

    Congrats on the book, I'm sure it turns out great and fun even if not planned ahead -- hey neither is life really ;)

  26. Helen, thank you for the recipe. If I made it now, would it have had enough time to mellow for Christmas?

    I love Sydney, but I lived in Canberra. Thankfully I was in my teens (though I have been back to visit friends) so i didn't know Canberra was rather dull. I loved it just the same.

  27. Hi gamistress66 (name?)!

    I love your outlook. I think I am going to adopt it, at through the holidays.

  28. Kathryn

    Yes it would be nicely mellowed by Christmas Day if made now.

    I have visited Canberra a few times and it really is a nice place to visit lots to see there.

    It would be great if you could visit again I am helping to plan the next Australian Romance Readers Convention that is being held at Bondi Beach here in Sydney next March the first one was held in Melbourne in 2009 and I had so much fun there that I became a committee member and am loving all the planning for a great weekend.

    Have Fun

  29. I would love to come to the Australian Romance Readers Convention, but unless it fell over my daughter's spring break, it would be tough. But I love Australia and I have promised her that I would take her and her sister there someday soon.

  30. Congrats on your new release! I'm a pantser but I shop for presents throughout the year so what does that make me?

    I don't have any Christmas recipes as my only contributions to the family Christmas dinner are salad and olive bread (in the non-snowy parts of CA, it's always salad season). Besides, if I didn't bring a salad, there will be no veggies at all.

    When I was a kid, Christmas was way more fun, especially looking at the displays in the large department stores. Now, I don't even want to think about finding parking.

  31. Sheree, I think shopping all year long makes you someone with a lot of closet space!

    I live in a a 205 year old house, which means NO closet space. We have a cage bar in our tavern room (they used to drop wooden bars down over the bar back then to keep people from stealing the booze and valuables) and I have been stuffing everything back there. The kids have been warned, no peeking! I need to start wrapping....

  32. Hello, Kathryn! We're so happy you could join us today. Congratulations on your newest release!

    I am a total plotter...or should I say that I'm a lister. I make a list for EVERYTHING. Honestly, I'd be lost without one! :)

  33. Helen! Thanks for the recipe! Personally, I'm not fond of fruit cake, but the rest of the family is!

  34. Helen, thanks for sharing your Christmas cake recipe. I don't care for some fruit cakes, but this one sounds yummy! :-)

  35. When it comes down to it, I like to think I could be a plotter, but I'm at heart a carefree doer :)

    Gamistress, I think we're long lost twins. LOL

  36. Sheree, I think shopping for presents all year is the way to go. Much less stress that way.

  37. Hey Kathryn! It is so wonderful having you spend the day with us!!!! I have to say that I can't wait to read your latest. You know how much I love your books!

    In regards to plotter or panster, for me it just all depends on the topic. I am a list person and am married to an excel spreadsheet addict - LOL! So we have lots of lists around our house. In fact, my grocery list is on an excel spreadsheet.

    As for the holidays, the dh and I did start a list of items for the kids back in September. But that list is just a base to go by. When the two of us go shopping, we tend to "wing it". That way we end up with more time together :-)

  38. Definitely a pantster over the holidays since there are too many things that make scheduling impossible! Thanks for sharing and congrats on the new release.

  39. I don't like the traditional American fruit cake, but what I had in Australia and from Mom's Apple Pie here is not in the same league.

    Thanks for having me here today. Helen, I am totally going to make your Chrissy Cake!

    Our dear hostesses at The Romance Dish will be choosing the winners of the goodies. There is no way I could. You were are delightful, and taught me the value of lists! I hope you all let me know how you liked The Duke's Night of Sin and stop by my website to enter my Twelve Days of Book Give Aways.

    Happy holidays all and to all good night.


  40. When my mother was still with me and my son was young, I had no trouble plotting my holiday gifts. Once I lost my mother and my son became an adult, and I don't have many gifts to buy, I usually just do something online or gift cards. It's so much easier and I can usually do it close to the last minute.

  41. Thanks for being our guest today, Kathryn!

    I just got home from work and am headed straight to bed. I'll check in tomorrow morning to respond to late comments.

    Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

  42. Hi, Kathryn. I'm looking forward to reading TDNOS! I'm a little bit of a plotter and a pantser...I plot at the last minute sometimes. I am buying my nephew an electric dictionary that also has a calculator and an alarm clock on it. I just saw it today and bought it. Otherwise, my nieces will all get gc to a local coffee shop and Old Navy. I don't usually shop for Christmas until, well, like, this weekend! :)
    Thanks for your post today!

  43. I try to plan and sometimes it works. Our son took off and drove to Colorado from TN when he was 18. He hadn't planned terribly well and had to pawn his 35mm camera , etc. to get home. He got a notice in the mail that his time was almost up to get his stuff back. He didn't have much of a job and couldn't afford it. I called the pawn shop, paid the fee and had them ship it to me. I stashed it until Christmas, wrapped it, and put it under the tree. The look on his face when he opened the box was worth it.

    I usually try to pick things up all year that I know people on my list want or will like.

  44. Kathryn,

    First, let me say that I love this series. Don't suppose you could publish a book a month so I didn't have to wait so long between books?

    During the holidays, I plan to be a plotter. Some time in November, with pen, paper, and the best of intentions, I write out a comprehensive list of who needs to receive which present to have the merriest of Christmases. The night before Black Friday, I turn into a pantser, spend three hours looking for that list, give up, then decide I'll just have to face the stores with no list in hand. Sure do wish there was a cure for this malady!