This woman has single-handedly changed how I approach both my writing and the publishing industry. She gave me the confidence to make some changes, which ultimately led to me to being able to write full-time. I’m honoured to have her here and feel blessed that our paths crossed. I only wish I’d met her sooner.
So, C.J., welcome.
C.J. Thanks for having me, Marissa! And you’re too kind to even mention me in the same sentence with the wunderkid, Amanda Hocking.
I’m glad we met as well, but you had everything you needed. Let’s just say I gave you a helpful push in the right direction.
M.F. First, tell us a bit about Vampire Vacation.
C.J. The book blurb says it best, but I’ll spare your readers from copying and pasting it. They can always click a link at the end if they’d like to read it.
For me, Vampire Vacation is simply what I saw missing in the urban fantasy genre. I wanted a monogamous married couple who worked side by side to solve a problem, rather than another strong female character with a wreck of a personal life. I wanted the couple to bicker, have pasts they’d rather forget, respect one another through the occasional snarky barb, and have smoking hot sex when the mood strikes them—you know, just like real life ;-)
In this case, the wife happens to be an ancient vampire and the husband is human. She’s the volatile, sexy creature he tries his best to manage.
M.F. I know the sequel to Vampire Vacation, The Hunt, is on its way. How did you find writing a sequel?
C.J It was much harder than I thought. Not because the story itself was problematic, but because of personal and professional hurdles. This past year had ups and downs galore, I dealt with things the best I could. Made some mistakes, made some good choices. Live and learn.
M.F. You’re not many years into your writing career, yet you’re seeing great success. What do you think your key to success has been and what advice would you give any aspiring authors.
C.J. LOL! I wish it were that simple: “Here, take this advice and you’ll sell lots of books.” There really is no quick fix, as you can well attest to.
Like any venture in life you need faith—not in God, not in “the powers that be”, not in your moral beliefs of right and wrong—but first and foremost, in your self.
If you say, “I can’t do this”. You’re dead RIGHT, you sure as hell can’t. If you worry your work is not good enough, then it most certainly isn’t.
Realize one thing: you can’t make everyone happy. All you can do is your best and work your ass off on every piece you put out for readers to enjoy.
If you allow your fears to rule how you perceive your own work, then it will also color how other people see it as well.
M.F. So what do you make about the recent changes in the publishing industry? Do you have any cheeky predictions about how things will continue to change?
C.J. I think it’s a fascinating time to be a writer. It also makes me feel like the one time in my life I have an edge. A business background in a time where some of the writers I’ve met can’t grasp advertising cost and rate of return?
M.F. What does the future hold for publishing? I have no idea. More of the same? Drastic changes regarding print and ebook pricing?
C.J. It sounds like the industry is on a good path for most savvy writers, that’s for darn sure.
M.F. How long have you been writing for and what prompted you to pick up a pen?
C.J. Ah... the moment where we get to shock everyone. I can hear them now: “Is she a hack? Why in the hell were we impressed with her?”
This past February marked two years from when I wrote “Chapter One”. It marked the first bit of fiction writing I’d attempted since college back in 1989. Yes, twenty years later I thought I’d give writing a try.
I started writing as an escape. I had some health issues overwhelming me and had to end my previous career. It was humbling to be stuck at home with hours and hours staring back at me… and with not even the strength to walk around the block. Writing became the one thing I could still do, so I threw myself in with gusto.
M.F. Whom do you read yourself? What authors have inspired you to write?
C.J. Although I’m not thrilled with her current stuff as much as her older titles, Laurell K. Hamilton remains one of the best storytellers I’ve had the pleasure to read.
Way before True Blood, I’d read about Ms. Teagarden, Lily Bard and the chick who finds dead people—Charlaine Harris remains a master of combining a British cozy feel with compelling characters and storylines. Love her work.
Of course, some others I auto-buy are just as darn good: Jim Butcher, P.N. Elrod, Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Keri Arthur, Carrie Vaughn, and Jenna Black. I could name quite a few more in other genres… but we’d be here all day.
None of them inspired me to write, my own professional isolation and desire to shut out medical worries I could do nothing to change did that. But, the above authors all inspired me to write better.
M.F. Other than publishing The Hunt, what’s next on the agenda?
C.J. I promised my kids I’d do their middle grade book next. This is especially dear to me since they can’t read even one of the three titles I’ve currently got out. We plotted out ideas for a book last summer and after I penned chapter one, I allowed myself to get pulled in many directions. Once the editing is done on The Hunt I plan to start their story, Black is for Lies. It will be under a new pen name, C.J. Stern.
After that will be another erotica novella and working on book three in The V V Inn series.
M.F. Thanks so much for stopping by C.J. and huge congrats on all your success. It couldn’t happen to a nicer person!
C.J. Thanks for having me, Marissa. I’m grateful we met and thrilled to have you as a partner in crime.
C.J. is running a unique pre-launch promo contest. She plans to give away ten signed and numbered copies of The Hunt. They will be mailed to winners when the print book goes up for sale, which is slotted right now for June 30th, 2011.
Here’s how you enter: You comment on any blog C.J. does for the next three weeks. She will notify readers when a new post is live via her Facebook business page, and she’ll Tweet about it. Each comment counts as one entry (only one entry per post, but you can comment more if you'd like). The comments must be made within the first 48 hours of the post going live, and she’ll post a "closing" comment when the entries for that day are closed.
All entries will be tossed into a drawing, and the participants with more entries have a higher chance of winning. BONUS!! Every entrant who comments on at least six blog posts and does not win a signed print copy will receive a free ecopy when the book goes up for sale.