Last fall, Cathy "Cate" O'Brien sat down and began writing. After a friend encouraged her to turn her short story into a book, she decided to do it. Within a few months, she was a self publishing author and had published her first adult contemporary romance E-book.
She publishes under the pen name of Hazel St. James.
"Hazel was my God Mother's name; she passed away eight years ago, but she taught me the greatest lesson in life," O'Brien said. "Do what you love, as long as you're happy, that's all that matters."
O'Brien, who lives in Hayfield, chose the name because it was Hazel who taught her to pursue her dreams.
"I don't know where the St. James came from, it just popped into my head," she said.
O'Brien chose to write under the pen name because an author who helped her get started recommended she do so to help keep her privacy. She also felt that it's a great barrier to protect her kids. "They know that I write, but they don't know the content of the books," she said.
Since September of 2012 O'Brien has published a full series of five E-books and one stand alone book entitled "Fighting for You" that is available in print as an E-book. Her books are contemporary romance; they fall into the same category as Fifty Shades of Grey.
"When I told my friends and family what I was doing they were all pretty supportive," she said. "Some weren't and that's ok too. I just don't want anyone's opinion of me to change." She pointed out the books are the works of an active imagination.
"When I sit down to write, it's almost like I become another person, I become Hazel St. James," she said. "Half the time when I go back to read through my work I don't even remember what I wrote a half hour ago."
In between writing, she has spent the last year traveling around the country promoting her books. "I've gotten a lot of really big breaks," she explained.
"I have been very fortunate." O'Brien has left her job at a dental office and is now a full-time author.
"I am fortunate to doing something that I love so much and have the support I've received."
To promote her new book "Fighting for You", Cathy and her cover model Justin Coale will be selling books on Saturday and Sunday during Hey Days as well as holding a book signing Saturday night inside the beer gardens. During the book signing, they will be selling 50 packages that include a signed book from Hazel St. James and Justin Coale, a t-shirt and a bracelet to commemorate meeting Justin Coale.