Monday Mentor: Kathy Harris

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

Jeremiah 29:11

For the last several weeks my Christian journey has been teaching me more about faith. I’m the type of person who feels awkward in new situations. I like to know where I’m going. I like to plan ahead. But God doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t want us to depend on ourselves. He wants us to rely on Him.

Writer and blogger Kathy Harris can relate. Kathy’s blog Divine Detour features interviews with people who have experienced their own “divine detour.” Although we may think we knows what’s best for us, God always has the quintessential plan for our lives.

Please tell us a little bit about your background.

I’ve wanted to “be a writer” since I was a young child, and that dream followed me through high school and college. I’ve always loved words and linguistics. The college I attended, Southern Illinois University, didn’t offer a creative writing program, so I majored in communications and minored in English. My specialty was actually advertising, so I learned some about marketing in college as well.

 How did your journey land you in the entertainment industry?

 I sang semi-professional Southern Gospel music during high school and college. Our group was made up of two of my cousins, my best friend, her sister and me. We sang mostly on the weekends, traveling in a three-state area. My love for music continued to grow to the extent that I began searching for a career opportunity in the field. About a year after I graduated from college, God led me to a position in Nashville.

 What can you tell us about your latest projects?

Early this year I completed my women’s fiction manuscript, The Road to Mercy. My agent is currently shopping it, along with two subsequent books I have planned. I’m currently revising the second book. All three books have a music business setting, because that’s what I know. But the stories are completely unrelated and tackle a variety of women’s issues and inspirational themes. I especially love to write about the power of prayer and finding faith and forgiveness in the midst of difficult times.

What is the best advice you can give to a writer just getting started?

Have patience. God’s timing is always perfect. And, enjoy every step of the journey.

What advice can you give to writers who are interested in working in the entertainment industry as a publicist?

First of all, I highly recommend attending a college that offers music industry courses, such as Belmont University or Middle Tennessee State University. A huge chunk of music industry jobs are held by grads from those schools, many now executives in their fields.

Start by getting your foot in the door. Write artist bios. Submit freelance articles for music publications and websites. Volunteer to do publicity for a music-related charity—there’s always a need for that kind of thing, and it will give you the opportunity to network and to showcase your talent. Start slowly and develop contacts. A publicist’s job is as much about networking as writing.

 What writing skills are important in your vocation?

I’ve had the privilege of working in many aspects of the music industry, beginning at the reception desk years ago. I used letter writing skills back then—and still do. The ability to write a good letter is quickly becoming a lost art, but it’s a valuable skill.

My current job is more about marketing than publicity, but through the years I have relied on my journalism training to write press releases, newsletters, tour book text, and web copy. People might be surprised how many publicists don’t know how to write a press release. It’s a marketable skill. In fact, some writers make a good living freelancing press releases and artist bios.

 A publicist needs people skills, too. I am inherently a shy person, so that didn’t come easily for me. If you excel at meeting people and putting them at ease, you are way ahead of the game.

 Why do you write?

Because I can’t NOT write! I’ve heard so many writers say the same thing. We’re all hopeless at giving it up I think. 

How do you find joy in your creative journey?

There’s nothing more fulfilling than connecting with people. I love it when something I write makes a connection with someone.

 And I really try to enjoy every step of the journey. That includes learning the craft of writing, meeting published and unpublished writers—and helping other writers. It’s been my experience that most people who work in Christian fiction and most people who work in country music have one thing in common—a genuine desire to give others a hand up. It’s all about “passing it on.”

Have you ever had a divine detour?

Thanks for asking.  You can logon to my website, www.DivineDetour.com, for a more complete answer, but the music industry is my biggest divine detour in life. And it has been a wonderfully blessed one. But, I’m happy that I am now writing again too.

Please answer the question I didn’t ask but that you wish I did.Hmmm. That’s an interesting question. I suppose I’d have to mention my dogs.  Actually, I chose my penname, Kate Shiloh, through my love of the Shiloh Shepherd breed. Right now, my husband and I have two Shilohs, a male and a female.

Finally, please leave us with your favorite Bible verse, inspiration quote or song lyric. Tell us what it means to you.

There are many Bible verses that speak to me personally, but one of my favorites is Luke 12:31.

 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

I wrote about it in my devotional that was included in Tyndale’s One Year LifeVerse compilation. As a young Christian when I first moved to Nashville after college, I didn’t understand how much we are to fully rely on God. He is sufficient for ALL of our needs. One of the first people I met in the music business lived his life with that kind of all-encompassing faith, and his life provided an incredible witness to me. The interesting thing is that he probably never knew he had that impact on my life.

Please be sure to check out Kathy’s blog Divine Detour.

www.DivineDetour.com

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