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Guest Author of the Month
I'm very pleased to introduce our next Guest Author for this month. She is CJ England. I hope you enjoy meeting CJ and learning a little about her.
CJ England and
Beverley : Can you tell us a little about yourself?
C.J.: Iím whatís known as an eclectic. I love to do a myriad of things including reading, exploring, watching movies, and walking. I love the out of doors and have spent many happy hours at the top of a mountain, or underneath the sea as a master diver. I love animals and have been a naturalist since I was in high school. I am a ferret mom, which means I foster sick and abandoned ferrets, and have worked in animal rehab for many years. I am just as happy alone as I am with my friends, but I adore being with my husband Jonathon. Heís my best friend and love of my life.
I love to travel and have visited fourteen countries and forty-two states in our own country. I plan to continue traveling and use the things I discover for inspiration for my stories.
Beverley : How long have you been writing and why did you start to write?
C.J.: Iíve been writing since I was a child. My official bio says in fact... CJ England credits her passion for writing to her second grade sweetheart, Steven, a blond haired cutie with dimples, who dumped her for a girl who could swing on the monkey bars. She wrote her first story about love and loss after that tragic episode. I wrote my first play that same year called Two, Too Many. It was about some kittens looking for a home of their own. I wrote several other plays and stories, because I loved to read and I couldnít imagine a better thing do to than tell a story someone else would enjoy.
The first story I wrote was The Peacekeeper Journals. It had its beginning on a snowy night in Idaho when I couldnít sleep. That one story was later separated into two full length novels and they are now my two best sellers of the 20+ books Iíve had published since I had my first acceptance in December of 2005.
Beverley : I know you write Torrid Romances. Why did you choose this genre? Do you write in any other genres?
C.J.: When asked, I say I write Sensual Romances. I always have a HEA and two committed main characters, but the sex takes backseat to the characters and the storyline. I believe a good story should be the goal, but as a reader I was always frustrated when the sex took place behind closed doors. I think lovemaking and sex is an integral part of life, and Iím not ashamed to show it in the stories I write.
I can, and have written in several other genres, including childrenís books, YA, and inspirational, but good old fashioned love stories with heat are my favorite, both to read and to write.
Beverley : Tell me a little about your latest book.
C.J.: My January release is the third in the Peacekeeper series. It is called The Peacekeeper Journals III: The Sceptre of Power. It tells the story of Danolas, a powerful witch and one of the men joined with Kira, the Peacekeeper. His destiny and love are revealed during this thrilling story. Here is a blurb, link to an excerpt and reviews to share.
The war continues as the forces of good and evil both struggle to gain control of the beautiful city of San Francisco and the world.
Brianna is an immortal witch from Ireland who has been sent by her mentor to help Kira and the Chosen. She brings news of a powerful sceptre, one lost for centuries, a weapon that if found could help them destroy the demons.
Danolas can't quite handle Brianna's open, earthy sensuality, but he finds himself attracted to the witch, despite the fact sheís the opposite of the mate heíd always dreamed of. As they travel through the Emerald Isle to find the special talisman, evil discovers their plans and Brianna's life is threatened.
But, all is not as it seems, and when tragedy strikes, Danolas must put his prejudice aside and decide if the attraction he feels for this Irish witch is only lust...or a love that will last for all eternity.
Beverley : This is probably a question most people ask - but what comes first for you - character or plot?
C.J.: Actually, neither. I get most of my ideas from dreams, so the storylines are pretty much laid out for me. The characters grow as I write, as do the worlds, and sometimes the book turns out much differently than I thought it would, but the basis almost always comes from my dreams.
There are a few times where an idea springs from no where. The book Donít Spank the Vamp, came from a title that was thrown out at an RT conference. I took it to bed with me and by morning I had the basis of the story. My book, Here Comes Peter which is an erotic tale of the Easter Bunny, came to me when I nearly ran off the road on my bike, trying to miss a little rabbit. Iíve gotten inspirations from pictures, other stories, movies and songs, but Iíd still say 90% of my ideas come from my dreams.
Beverley : What's your biggest challenge when writing - hooks, sagging middles, other?
C.J.: For me, it the very first page. I hate starting a book. In fact, a good deal of the time, I wind up just writing whatever comes to my mind, just so I wonít see that empty page staring up at me. I will write nonsense if necessary so I donít have to look at it.
My favorite part of writing is the finish. I love tying up the loose ends and making those surprise endings happen. I so rarely know how itís going to end, writing it as just as enjoyable as reading it for the first time. LOL
Beverley : Do you have a routine for writing? And if you do can you share it with us?
C.J.: I write every day. I try to do at least six hours after my husband heads off to work. Depending on what else is going on in my day, I do housework, promotion and writing each day. My critters all insist on time, so I have to chase the dog, scritch the cats and snuggle the ferrets as well. I try to keep to a schedule, but Iím not a slave to it. I figure my family always comes first, so when Jonathon is home, I will spend time with him. It is a real balancing act, but I canít imagine not writing. It would be like not breathing.
Beverley : How do you fit in reading, research, online lists, etc.?
C.J.: I donít do nearly what I should. I get caught up spending time in my worlds. But I do try to take a little time each day on different lists chatting with readers. I have my two special chat lists that I spend a lot of time on... http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CJsaysFollowYourDreams/ and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/I_Read_CJ_England/
The first is a chat list open to everyone both reader, artist and authors alike. Promotions welcome at any time. I want my people to meet all the authors there are out there. The second is a special group open only to those who have purchased one of my books. They get special insider information about me and my work. I also have a newsletter http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CJsDreamtimeNewsletter/ for those who just want highlights of whatís going on with me.
Research is something I do as Iím writing. I may do some before the book, to get the flavor of what I writing, but any specific research is done as I go. I love doing it and I even have a file that is filled with a bunch of info I learned about different things. The amount of trivia Iíve learned by researching is amazing. And it comes in good at parties! LOL
Reading is still a pleasure, but my TBR pile only grows. <sigh> Somehow, I never have time to do the reading I want to do. One of my resolutions is to take more time for me and reading. Iíve got several books just crying out for attention.
Beverley : What kind of books do you enjoy reading? And who are your favorite authors?
C.J.: Like my life, my love of reading is quite eclectic. My first love is romances, but I adore a good mystery. I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I also enjoy a good fantasy story like by Terry Brooks or a Sci-Fi classic like those by H.G. Wells. Iíll try just about any author at least once, but the style and story has to really grab me before I will make them one of my favorites.
My list of favorite authors include, but arenít limited to... Agatha Christie, Laura Ingalls Wilder , Lillian Jackson Braun, Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony, Barbara Cartland, James Herriot, Nora Roberts, Frank Peretti, Linda Howard, Jayne Anne Krentz, and a dozen other authors that have influenced me.
Beverley : Do you spend much time marketing? And what do you feel works best for you?
C.J.: Not enough time. I am trying to get on more of a schedule so I can do more. Iíve had some marketing experience, but online stuff is a whole new ball game. Luckily, Iím involved with a couple of great publishers that want to help their authors succeed and give them the tools to do it. Iíve learned a lot and try to do a little more each year.
For me, getting to know my readers has been the most successful. Plus, it has the added benefit of meeting some really wonderful people. When I started my lists, I wasnít thinking about making friends, but of getting my name out to people. But I have met men and women who have become very good friends and business associates. My best friend I met online through my books and I wouldnít dare submit a new story without her putting her special Ďmojoí on it. And they are my best sales tools. If they love my work, they let people know and the adage word of mouth certainly holds true!
Beverley : For all those aspiring writers out there who are looking for that magic formula - do you have any suggestions for them?
C.J.: I always tell newbies two things. One...submit. Youíll never get anywhere just sitting on your work. It will never be perfect, and waiting until you think it is will only keep you from ever sending it in. Do your research, find the house you think will be perfect for your work and submit it. Second...and most importantly, NEVER let anyone change your voice. You have a special style that is uniquely yours. You donít want to sound like me...or JK Rowling...or even Nora Roberts. You want to sound like you, so make sure you guard that voice with everything you have. Donít get me wrong. An editor can make your book shine. But make sure any edits you make, only improves your voice, not changes it.
Lastly, I would add to research, research, research, both before you submit and after you are offered a contract. Above all, don't ever feel pressured into signing with a house. If you have the slightest doubt as to how they may treat you, if you are concerned in any way about the contracts... DON'T SIGN. There are plenty of houses out there to choose from. One of the reason bad houses prosper is authors fear to make waves. Don't fall into that common mistake.
Beverley : What do you do for fun and relaxation?
C.J.: Read. When I can, Iíll grab a book and go outside under the trees and just disappear for a few hours. Next, is walk, but living in Orlando, there are just too many people to enjoy that. I want to walk among the trees and smell the pines. I also love diving. I am a divemaster and one of the best feelings in the world is floating under the water and watching the sea life go by.
And I love to spend time with Jonathon, my husband. Whether itís diving, watching a movie, snuggling while we watch a video, or traveling to new places, he makes everything fun and he is who I look to first when I want to relax.
Beverley : Is there something about yourself that you'd feel comfortable sharing with your readers that maybe, not many people know about you?
C.J.: Hmmm...Iím pretty much an open book, but I donít know if Iíve told people about my short musical career. I toured Europe when I was in my late teens with a singing group. I loved it and saw many different countries. I later went on to do a few more plays and musicals, but I found I loved the behind the scenes work more than on stage, so I went into production work. Iíve worked with some really great artists and performers and I really enjoyed allowing my creative side to come forth.
I use that creative side when I started writing, but I still keep my hand in production work. I work with IATSE, the stage hand union and Iíve done shows with Rascal Flatts, Yanni, 3 Doors Down and Manhattan Transfer, just to name a few. Creativity can be used in many ways, and Iíve been blessed to use it in several of my careers.
Beverley : Thank you C.J., for joining us this month, and sharing a little bit about yourself. I hope our readers have found this as interesting an interview and educational as I have. I wish you lots of success with all your new books and projects.
Find out more about C.J. by visiting her websites at http://cjengland.com
Next month we'll be talking to Carol McPhee who writes Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense for Wings ePress. So please come back and check out our next author of the month.