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article imageOp-Ed: Sonoma Realtor-turned author, now has her own column Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Oct 27, 2016 in Lifestyle
Sonoma - Autumn brings to mind change and a shift in the seasons. The symbolism has not gone unnoticed by local Realtor-turned author, Catherine Sevenau.
This October, Val Robichaud, editor of The Sonoma Valley Sun invited her to be a regular columnist in Sonoma’s only bi-monthly publication. Sevenau has made an impact with the self-publication of two books. Both a memoir of sorts, they talk of family history, life, and lessons she’s learned along the way.
“I’ll be contributing a column to the Sun once a month,” said Sevenau, “but it’s putting together the content and guests for a weekly radio show offered to me at the same time that will be more of a challenge.”
Currently, she’s having fellow writers on the show and sending out her humor and thoughts across the valley thru a weekly broadcast called ‘Speakeasy’ on local KSVY 91.3 FM. So now, with newspaper and radio media in her grasp, the next step is television, or perhaps a movie, she half-jokingly told me.
This reporter took some time to chat with Sevenau last Friday, while indulging in some fresh-made ice cream at Sweet Scoops on the plaza. The warm late afternoon lent itself to a walk and talk around the plaza. Or as some people refer to it, ‘the Square.’
“While I’m busy these days now with the radio show and the column in The Sun, I am ready to take my writing and stories to the next level,” she said.
When Sevenau says ‘next level’ she means it. Over the years, this reporter has met many writers and talked to them about their work, etc. A common struggle they all share, even with a book that has been well received, is promotion.
“Going the self-publishing route has taught me a lot,” she said. "It really is a lot of work and I’ve invested a considerable amount of time and money into it. It was creating a whole new business.”
Thanks to digital technology and the Internet, book publishing like everything else has changed. Even experienced writers must consider doing most of the promotion themselves otherwise, their work will not get out there. Even with the tasks involved, Sevenau, like so many others, sees the unique opportunity our current technology provides.
“I’m not complaining,” she said, “because the entire experience, even with constant obstacles, has been educational, uplifting, and cathartic.”
Our conversation then moved to the subject of power. She’s undecided if she goes with a publisher for her next book. “If I do, I’m relinquishing a considerable amount of creative control. They will have final say in the book cover design, layout, font type, etc. It is hard for me to give up that control.”
Sevenau looked out towards the historic stretch of old buildings that make up Sonoma’s old Mission and hacienda past as she said: “The two books I have so far were the result of an ongoing writing class and a long term course on consciousness that I was involved in some time ago. I never thought my pieces on personal history and family stories would turn into what they’ve become.”
Sevenau stressed that even though publishing two books was not her initial intention, she is grateful for how it all turned out. “I have this new career in writing which has been totally unexpected; though in reality, it’s more like raising another child rather than a new career.”
“In fact,” she said, “all of my ventures into starting a business were something I did to initially support myself and my two sons. The fresh juice business I started over 40 years ago sprang from my desire to be in charge of my life. Earning $2.10 an hour at a dead-end job was getting us nowhere. My work in real estate was a way to earn a living while also being my own boss, and I never thought I’d be the co-owner of my own real estate franchise.”
“Owning one’s personal power is key,” she said. This is what Sevenau wants women to know and yes, men too! But what is crucial is, “Know what your power is about. Know where it comes from and what are you using it for!”
Part of growth (and in a sense, growing up) as Sevenau sees it, is when to get tough and when to let go. “Do I need to fuss with a publisher about what design cover they will use? Not really! If that’s what it takes to get my work out there to a larger platform and audience, that’s the more important goal.”
Sevenau noted that, “You have to know when to stand your ground and when to step back. I’m no longer the ‘good little girl’ I used to be.”
Explaining, she continued, “Not with regards to virtue—but from a more practical point of view—someone who is always a “good girl” has a harder time owning her power. Whereas a person who can get tough, she is one that can better manage. She learns not to wilt or breakdown when the road gets bumpy.”
That is not to say that Sevenau has it all handled, or that all this growth and understanding happened in an instant. “It took time and work to get to where I am right now. And much of that work was inner-work. Also, as we get older, we don’t care so much what others think.”
If you are curious to know what that ‘inner-work’ is about which Sevenau speaks and weaves into her stories, read her column in The Sonoma Valley Sun, check out her blogs at her web site or tune in to ‘Speakeasy with Catherine Sevenau’ on Tuesday nights at 7:00 pm on KSVY 91.3 FM.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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