WG: Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
CC: Thanks for having me, Winnie! I've been married 40 years to the same wonderful guy. We have two children and a 3-year-old granddaughter who is the light of our lives. I've been a Hoosier (Indiana resident) all my life and have lived in the same small town forever.
WG: Let's talk about your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.
CC: It was just sheer determination. I didn't even know another writer when I first started writing.
WG: Tell us about your journey.
CC: I wanted to write since I was in first grade. My dream was to have just ONE book in a library somewhere. =) As we women often do, my own dream lay dormant while I raised our children. Then a little shy of my 40th birthday one of my younger brothers was killed in a freak lightning accident. It was a wakeup call for me. I knew if I ever wanted to follow my dream, I needed to get on it. I wrote my first book in a year then spent another 6 years trying to sell it. I literally have enough rejections to paper a wall in my office.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
CC: Just one and it finally sold. That was a mistake on my part. I was determined to sell that book because it was my grieving book for my brother. I should have moved on to the next story. You learn to write by writing. So don't make my mistake. Finish your book to the best of your ability. Polish it up. Then send it off and move on.
WG: Can you tell us something about your experience in getting 'the call'?
CC: That was an exciting day! I screamed so loudly the cat hid under the bed and wouldn't come out for hours. I called my pastor and got his answering machine. I was babbling so much that when he listened to the message, he thought someone had died and he didn't know who to call back. True story! =)
WG: How has being a published author impacted your life?
CC: It's made me more confident because I have such a clearly defined mission in life. I know where I fit now. I wasn't too sure before!
WG: What aspect of life as a 'published author' surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?
CC: I'm continually surprised at the fact that there is really no "off" time for an author. I'm either working on a book, planning a new one, working on promotion, or doing revisions. Even when on vacation, there is something to be done.
WG: What about your writing process:
Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
CC: First thing in the morning I generally work on catching up on email. I'm CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and tend to have business related things like that to catch up on. I do any written interviews that are due first thing too. Then I plunge into the writing day.
WG: Do you set writing goals for yourself?
CC: I sit in my recliner working until I get at least 2000 words a day in. It might take me until 1 or it might take me until 9 at night but I sit there until it's finished.
WG: Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
CC: I can't write with noise. =)
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
CC: No. I have tried plotting but it ruins the fun for me. If I know what is going to happen, why write the book! I know my characters and I have my beginning premise. Then I just plunge in.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
CC: I have a combination of the two. I work hard to figure out the main premise. For example, in Lonestar Angel which just shipped, Eden is moving on with her life five years after a divorce that happened when their infant daughter was kidnapped and she drowned. At least that's what she thought. Then Clay shows up and tells her that not only did he not sign the divorce papers, but that he's found their Brianna. She's alive and he needs her help to figure out which of the five little foster children at Bluebird Ranch is theirs. Of course the danger is still lurking. So that was fun to write.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories?
CC: My characters are always overcomers. They are strong women who have not let past failures and painful circumstances ruin their lives.
WG: What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?
CC: People say my settings are almost a character in themselves. And my female protagonists are strong and sympathetic.
WG: Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?
CC: There is always the pressure of other things vying for my time. The main priority is my little granddaughter. I have to have time to be with her. So I make sure to figure that all out.
WG: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?
CC: I start with setting. I know that's a little weird but people in Hawaii are different from people in NYC. So I start with the location and research what kind of people live there. What are their worries? What's going on in that area that's in the news? What is the history that has shaped them?
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?
CC: I read suspense in all its forums. Romantic, straight suspense, even some horror.
WG: Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?
CC: I love dystopian novels. Shh. =) My favorite novel of all time is The Stand by Stephen King. I've read that thing well over 30 times.
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?
CC: Don't give up. Keep working. Attend at least one writer's conference a year. I highly recommend the American Christian Fiction Writers conference every Sept and the Mount Hermon Conference every Palm Sunday weekend.
WG: Is there a specific 'ah-ha' moment you've had as a writer that you would like to share with us?
CC: It was a fun moment when I realized it's okay to write by the seat of my pants.
WG: Rejections, notes from unhappy readers and less than stellar reviews are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?
CC: I know that God has my back. Not everyone will like a novel and that's okay. The ones who get it are out there too.
WG: Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?
CC: In the early days I was told I needed to plot out a novel. That was what all the books I read advised. It's just not true. How freeing it was when I wrote my first novel without knowing everything. So fun!
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?
CC: I love it when I hear from readers about an epiphany they had when reading a book.
WG: When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?
CC: I love travel! My creative juices get flowing when I visit the place where I am going to set a novel. My main self-indulgence is good coffee.
WG: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
CC: An author. =)
WG: What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
CC: I'm a Star Trek fan. I love Mr. Spock!
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
CC: My all time favorite movie is An Officer and Gentleman. I love the character arc in that movie!
CC: Right now I'm working on the first book in a new series, the Hope Beach series set in the Outer Banks. I love historic preservation. We restored the old Victorian home we own and I wanted to write a character with that particular passion.
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
WG: What inspired you to write this particular story?
CC: We were in St. Croix about to go out to Buck Island for snorkeling. There was a beach cam at the harbor. I called my parents and told them to hop on the computer and we'd wave at them. Then I got to thinking. What if a young woman saw someone she cared about kidnapped right in front of her as she watched on a harbor cam.
WG: What sort of research, if any, did you have to do? Did you stumble across any unexpected interesting/fun tidbits along the way?
CC: Blackbeard the Pirate hung out along the Outer Banks. And that area is called The Graveyard of the Atlantic.
WG: Tell us about your upcoming plans.
CC: Lonestar Angel is just hitting the stores. Smitten, written with my best friends, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter and Kristin Billerbeck, is due out in December. It was so fun to write! It's a novel in four parts. Our own personalities are written into the characters and it's a fun story about a small town in Vermont. The women decide to save it from extinction by turning it into romance capital based on its name Smitten.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your readers can get in touch with you.
CC: I love to hear from readers! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
WG: Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!
CC: Thanks for having me, Winnie! Such fun questions!