Kathryn Haueisen is an author and retired Lutheran pastor. In her church life she served congregations in Ohio and Texas with an eight-year stop over as Executive Director of a church-affiliated camp and retreat center in Texas. In her personal life she raised two daughters who thanked her by adding two sons-in-law to the family and eight grandchildren. She learned about love, loss, and new life through three marriages. She currently lives with her husband in Houston, TX. Together they travel as often as possible. She blogs at www.howwisethen.com about people and programs that make useful contributions to the common good. Her writing career includes five books (one as editor and two as co-author), curriculum for youth and adults, and dozens of magazine articles on travel, history, social issues, and family life. Her most recent book, Asunder, is a combination fictional account of divorce and remarriage later in life and non-fiction discussion guide about changing attitudes and assumptions about marriage.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? What/who inspired you to publish your first book?
My first book was the result of our fourth move in five years, towing two pre-teen daughters and one dog from place to place until we landed in Houston, Texas, in August. We were in a VW van that lacked air-conditioning because we didn’t really need it in the 80’s in Ohio, where the other moves took place. I dropped out of a master’s degree program so my husband could take a new job. The demands of the job basically turned him into an absentee father. Did I mention it was August? The average August temperature in Houston ranges somewhere between blow dryer to blast furnace hot.
The girls went off to yet another new school. The husband went off to the new job. It was just me and the mountain of brown boxes. I had a meltdown or epic proportions. Part of my recovery was writing Married and Mobile: Making the Move That’s Right for You. That was 1985. The last few copies of it are in my file cabinet.
I have always been an avid reader. I read Tale of Two Cities the summer between my fifth and sixth grades as part of a summer library reading program. The librarian said I was too young to read it. She was right in that I didn’t understand most of the political issues behind the story. But none-the-less, I was fascinated with how Charles Dickens told the story.
Several teachers and professors encouraged my writing efforts by giving me high marks for my school assignments and occasionally jotting, “Well done,” or “Good work” on assignments. Never underestimate the power of an encouraging word.
You have a variety of fiction and non-fiction work out there. Please share a little with us of the types of publications do you produce and a little about them?(Books, as well as blogs)
I plan to update and republish three of my already-published books as a Transition Trilogy. Married and Mobileis about transitioning to a new community. A Ready Hopeis about transitioning to the new normal as a community recovers from a natural disaster. Asunder,my first novel and also my first Indie book, is about transitioning to single-again marital status after a divorce.
Most of my writing has been for newspaper and magazine articles. I sold my first newspaper article the spring of my senior year in college. While I was home raising our two daughters, I sold numerous freelance articles and a column in a small community newspaper about places to go with children. I wrote personality sketches, inspirational pieces for faith-based magazines, travel articles, and family life articles. I still pitch and sell freelance articles occasionally.
A few years ago, I started a weekly blog: https://howwisethen.com. "How Wise Then" is a play on my challenging to say/spell last name and is based on the premise that ancient wisdom is pertinent to modern challenges. I write about people and programs making helpful contributions to our global village. This allows me to write about interesting people, environmental issues, peace and justice themes, and innovative and ingenious ideas I learn about.
Other than my five books and freelance articles, most of my writing prior to retiring in 2014 has been for work – press releases, curriculum, columns in church newsletters, development letters to raise funds for various projects and causes, promotional brochures and reports, that sort of thing.
Would you mind sharing a little about and of your current work-in-progress?
I am excited – and maybe just a tiny bit obsessed – with my current work in progress. Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures, is now in the editing and revision phase. Writing is ultimately a team activity. I’m now working with Beta readers, a writing coach, a couple of editors, and some book promotional professionals. This is a historical novel (my first in that genre) in four parts: 1) The religious and political events in England that drove the Pilgrims into exile in Holland for twelve years. 2) What was happing among the Native Americans in the New England area during those same years. 3) The Mayflower voyage. 4) The first six months after the Pilgrims arrived until they meet the Native Americans and negotiate a treaty. This book will be released late in 2020 to connect with the 400th anniversary events planned around that momentous event in history.
Please tell us something a little about yourself, perhaps something that people generally may not know?
Though I can hide it well when confronted with a microphone and an audience, I am basically a shy person. I love children of all ages and count as my greatest blessings in life the two daughters I was privileged to raise and now the eight grandchildren they’ve brought into my life. I was the only girl on my block in my teen years so I got all the babysitting jobs. I spent more time with other people’s children than with my own peers. I love dogs and have only ever been without one between dogs. I also love horses and always wanted one, but living in cities most of my life made owning a horse a bit impractical.
My love of travelling has taken me to 48 of our 50 states and sixteen countries. I would gladly grab my passport and go again if the opportunity comes along. Three of my international trips were to El Salvador to work on international Habitat for Humanity projects.
I was a camp director for eight years and loved working with dedicated hard-working summer staff and watching them interact with the campers. Three of my grandchildren are working at that same camp this summer.
Who was your favorite author growing up? Do you recall some of your favorite books?
I still have my four-volume collection of books by A. A. Milne that my mother read to me. I think my favorite book that I read for myself was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.
Do you have some favorite verses or quotes you find inspiring? What are they, and why?
I am inspired by different verses and quotes, depending on what’s going on my life. One that I go back to over and over is Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (v. 1-2). I always associate this one with my grandmother, who was one of the most important people in my younger years.
I am also partial to Psalm 30:5b: “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” When I’ve been going through a rough patch I sometimes think of this as “Joy comes in the mourning.” That’s gotten me through more than one crisis and setback.
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) has pulled me forward when I faced what seemed like impossible situations at the time.
Are you a planner or a pantser? (Do you write via an outline, or do you just write as the spirit leads?)
I do a little of each. I kick around ideas in my mind while I’m walking or kicking water in the pool. Then I reach for pad and paper and start jotting down ideas. I just dive in with the first few pages and eventually have to stop and put together a rough outline of where I think this is going. My current WIP is in its third edition. I finally had to admit the first two approaches weren’t going to result in a finished book. The current edition has also evolved from what I thought it was going to be to what it turned out to be. I find the characters themselves often render opinions about where they want this to go, so I try to let them influence the outcome. It is after all, their story.
Is there anything you learned from your publishing experience that you would change? Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
If I had it to over again, I’d get much more involved in local writing communities much earlier in the process. The writing life can become very isolating. We need others to keep us sane, balanced, and focused. Plus, when it comes time to publish, we need people to encourage us. No one person can possibly be effective at all the various elements of publishing – writing, editing, layout, book cover design, promotion, etc. etc. It takes a village.
As for advice to aspiring authors? Write. Something. Anything. Every day. Keep a journal. Make lists of things. Write notes to people you care about. Just keep exercising those writing muscles. Connect with other authors. Read books on the craft and go to conferences and workshops to meet other authors. You’ll be inspired by those who have been at it longer than you and you’ll inspire those who have less experience at this than you do. Either way, you benefit.
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
We seem to be living through a crazy and conflicted time in our culture right now. Reading can helps us better understand what’s happening out there, and within ourselves. Research indicates the more people read, the more empathetic they tend to be. I hope what I write gives my readers new insights into the way things could be, information to make life better in some small way, and inspiration to strive to make our global village a more inviting and inclusive place. The world needs what each of us has to offer. Reading help us clarify our passions, identify what we have to offer, and how to make best use of our unique talents. Whether we’re reading non-fiction information and how-to books or amazing fiction about inspiring antagonists, what we read influences what we think. What we think influences our emotions. Our emotions are energy in motion; they influence what we do. What we do either adds to or subtracts from the well-being of the community around us. The ability to read and write are skills only humans possess. We should use them for the benefit of all creation.
Divorce hurts. Healing takes time. Recovery unfolds along unpredictable paths. Learn from fictional Ellie as she builds a new life after the one she cherished dissolves, driving her to try new experiences with new people.
It takes years for a community to recover from a natural disaster. The volunteers who come to help are a critical part of the process. Learn what to expect in the first year post-disaster and how to be part of the volunteer recover team.
Rowan & Littlefield Publishing:
40 Day Journey with Kathleen Norris