Friday, March 9, 2012

Kathy Carlton Willis: Publicist, Author, Reflector Of God's Light

I love blogging, an undertaking I never expected to enjoy beyond the sigh-it's-another-task-to-do perspective. Meeting awesome people (both guests and commenters) and learning so much about... well, so much... is the #1 impetus behind my blogging zeal. And, one of those awesome people is my guest this week on Everyone's Story, Kathy Carlton Willis. Kathy is owner of KCW Communications where she helps to shine the light on her clients. During Kathy's visit with us, she will share insights to reading, publicity and God's timing.

Are you struggling with your writing, full of doubt? Are you curious what a publicist can do for you? Drop Kathy a line or two. She'll enjoy hearing from you!

Some Questions for Kathy:
One thing (out of many!) that keeps leaping out toward me from the adult Christian Ed classes I'm taking at my church is that when it comes to God, nothing is coincidence, that He has it all figured out. Relating this to writing, and His Divine Time Line for each individual, would you care to share your thoughts on God's timing for the writer vying to become published? From your perspective as a publicist and inspirational speaker, are there things we should or should not be trying to aid God with?

I think realizing God doesn’t need our help to manage what happens on our timeline is probably the first step! But He does use servant-hearted believers who are obedient to His direction and intentional in their goals. What is really neat about trusting Him for the timing is knowing He is taking care of an incredible cluster of events, attitudes, opportunities, connections and ideas before an author is published, or in the broader sense, before a believer accomplishes any God-ordained goal. It’s almost like the old-timey phone operator switchboards. God is plugging in all the lines at the right time to the right people and when it’s all in place, then our opportunity happens. And there’s room for so much human error in that, as we drop calls, don’t listen to Him on the other end of the line, or try to force a connection that isn’t available yet. The main thing we can do as Christian writers is to ask God to show us the goals He has for our writing, and to use His wisdom, along with receiving advice from the wisdom team He has placed in our lives. If we look at the end goal and back-up from that final destination (reverse story-board style) until we get to the next step we need to take, then we have God’s plan divided up into small doable tasks. Then it’s just a matter of following His lead, step by step.

Okay, so an author has a website, a blog, is active in social network circles. What advantages can a publicist offer that an author cannot do for his or herself?

Not all publicists offer the following services, but these are a few of the services KCWC offers to help writers who are already doing their own promotion and marketing. A publicist can:
  • Help you write marketing into the book: hooks and angles that will be timely for publicity when the book launches—utilizing evergreen and water cooler topics.
  • Write your marketing plan and book proposal.
  • Work in tandem with your in-house publicity team to maximize exposure.
  • Create a custom database of contacts for media, consumers, niche-markets, retailers, etc. This might include local, regional and national networking.
  • Consult with you on branding, first-impression image effects, media training, etc.
  • Design and coordinate your media kit, blog tour, speaker kit, event kits, etc.
  • Escort you to national tours, trade shows, etc.
  • Arrange article placement and guest blogger opportunities for you.
Care to reveal your seemingly unending source of energy? And, as a theme on Everyone's Story, I use the image of plowing on and through discouragement. Any advice on plowing through rough spots in one's career (or aiming for a career) without zapping your physical energy or emotional stamina? 

There’s never a problem with getting my brain to surge with ideas—but there’s sometimes a problem in getting it to shut off so I can rest! I’ve had plenty of rough spots in the past twelve months (meaning I’m an overachiever on the stressor test). I confess those challenges could easily derail me. Rather than focus on the setbacks and struggles, I gaze at the goals God has set in my line of vision. I refuse to let trials get the best of me. Not that I’m some superhuman businesswoman—just that God has assigned me to a mission and as long as I stay open to His lead, I can plug in to His stamina and His drive—it’s not about what I have to deliver on my own. And when I’m having a “stinky” day, I acknowledge it as a bad day—then take stock of what I can do in spite of my circumstances. And then, before I know it, I’ve tackled the to-do list and have something productive to show for my efforts. Sulking, brooding or self-pity would have made me feel worse in the long run. I prefer the rewarding sensation of being used by God. That reenergizes me like no other stimulant! (Although I do confess to enjoying a daily diet Pepsi Max, too!)
Courtesy Google Images
A Reading Tale by Kathy Carlton Willis

The love of story leads readers to devote time from our busy schedules to visit a new world, a new time, a new way of life. Because time is precious, it makes sense to maximize our reading experiences as much as possible. I’ve always been a lover of books. What’s your rite-of-passage book story? 

I’ll start with my own reading tale. 

My mother encouraged me to learn to read as soon I started school. She was a voracious reader, eager for me to develop the same love of books she had. This Chatty Kathy loved every form of communications since my first spoken word, and the written word was no different. I took to it like gravy goes with biscuits. Remember those Weekly Reader magazines (oh, the delicious smell of the ink and paper!)? And the SRA Reading Lab inspired me to read not just for speed, but for retention—thanks to those specialized tests. It was my goal to make it through each level before the appointed time. To this day, I still like to beat deadlines.

I received my first public library card as soon as I started school, and Mom walked us kids to the library several times a month to pick up books. Yes, it seemed like it was two miles uphill both ways, but it was worth it! Our little town of four thousand was blessed with a Carnegie library (built in 1905) full of well-loved books. Mom taught me how to follow my favorite authors, and I read every title they’d ever written. I knew how to thumb through a card catalog and recite the Dewey decimal system as well as I could spell my own name. By the time I outgrew the children’s section, I had read every book and graduated to the “grown-up” shelves. 

Now I’ve grown up even more. My love affair for words inspired me to start my own communications firm, so I get to fiddle with words all day long. We promote authors and books, and present programs to various groups, stringing together words we’ve written, edited, proposed, sung, spoken, coached, pitched, and more! Words thrill me. Story entices me—draws me in—beckons to me. 

Most avid readers have been caught saying their idea of a time-out from stress and life involves curling up with a good book—claw-foot tub or blazing fireplace optional. Some readers aren’t quite as gung ho to dig in to their “to be read” piles. They want to like to read, but they aren’t quite there yet. 

My favorite reading tip is this: Don’t waste time on a mediocre book. When reading for recreation, remember that you aren’t in school anymore. You aren’t being graded for reading every word. So if a book doesn’t appeal to you, put it down! Grab a different one. We have only so much time in life—definitely not enough time to get bogged down with a boring or confusing story line. 

Just because a book earned rave reviews doesn’t mean it’s the right book for you, any more than gorgeous size 7 shoes will fit size 10 feet! 

Think about your own reading tale. What was it like when you learned to read? What turned you on to books? Do you recall the favorite authors of your early years? Who inspired you to read more? Did reading lists and contests in school motivate you to try harder? What challenges you today in your reading? We all have a story—even a reading story! 

Author Bio:
Kathy Carlton Willis enjoys fiddling with words as: writer, publicist, and writer's coach at KCW Communications. Kathy is affiliated with AWSA, CLASSeminars, and others. She’s published in multiple books, magazines, and online publications. She writes and speaks on the issues that hold women back and shines the light on their path to freedom, encouraging others to have their own light bulb moments. Kathy shines, whether she's shining the light on God's writers and speakers, or reflecting God's light during her speaking events. For more information, catch up with Kathy at her website:


  1. Kathy, a warm welcome to Everyone's Story this week ♡

    Just wanted to share two thoughts for now:

    1) I love your analogy of God as a switchboard operator, plugging in the right lines to the right people in the right place & time so we can move forward like He wants us to. This is going to be my new visual for motivation. Thanks!

    2) I've always been an avid reader--my mother setting a great example for me. And I've always been an advanced student. However, although I devoured the Weekly Readers (you've brought back fond memories for me), I have to confess: I disliked that SRA kit in the back of the classroom, especially the Aqua Group--LOL.

  2. Elaine, thanks for having me on your blog. You are such a hospitable blog host! And I loved your comments. Well—all but that one about the aqua SRA series. I'll forgive you for it. Ha ha! I wanted to pop in to say "hello" to your readers and let them know if they have any questions, I'll read the comments this week and try to answer what I can for you. Shine on!

  3. Kathy,
    I liked what you said about overcoming difficulties by gazing at the goals God has set in your line of vision. May I copy that out and put it on my mirror?

    I'm impressed with how many services you offer as a publicity firm, and I notice that you're a skilled writer as well as a publicist. Great communicating!

    Elaine, your blog is a blessing!

    1. Thanks so much Robin! I'm glad you stopped by Elaine's site.

  4. Welcome to Everyone's Story, Robin. Thanks so much for your sweet words. Hope you come back for another visit or two.

  5. Kathy, thanks so much for being my guest this past week on Everyone's Story. You've shared many insights into a PR firm, as well as liberated us readers from reading a novel that may not be as enjoyable as others. And thanks for the fond jog in memories of elementary school reading assignments... even if the two of us disagree on the color of aqua... shudder, shudder. LOL.


    ♥ Elaine


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