1. How long have you been writing?
Since I was in second grade. I wrote a fascinating story from the point of view of a school bus. He recounted all the many indignities suffered during a normal bus route. I wrote short stories, poetry, and songs all through my school years. When I was in college, I began experimenting with writing novels. I would write the first few chapters, hit a snag, and leave the story in a drawer. It wasn't until I was thirty and facing a cancer diagnosis that I realized if I wanted to see my dream of being a published author become a reality, I needed to take my writing seriously. I haven't looked back since.
2. How did you get your agent?
I worked hard to write a good query letter. I researched agents. And I wrote a good book. Please note this was not the first book I'd written. Most first books are not the kind of books that earn an agent's attention. My first book will be my first line of defense in the Zombie Goat invasion. All that paper has to be good for something.
3. Speaking of your agent, would you introduce us please? I think she's the perfect agent for me!
She might be! Truly, I have the highest regard for her and think on the Awesomemeter Scale of 1-10, she's an 11. But if I haven't read your book, I can't recommend you to her.
4. So, how do you feel about reading my book for me?
I love reading! But sadly, unless your book is already published, I can't volunteer to read it for you. Part of this is because I barely have enough time to handle my own writing, critique partner reading, and pleasure reading. Part of it is because my agent strongly advises me (read: threatened me with serious consequences and repercussions if I disobeyed her) not to read unpublished manuscripts from any but my CPs. I would hate to read about your incredibly awesome sparkly purple unicorns who are actually covert operatives for the British government and somehow accidentally incorporate part of your idea into one of my own. This policy keeps your awesome sparkly purple unicorn covert operatives safe!
5. Do you have to know someone in the industry to get a book published?
Nope. You need to write a really good book. Sometimes you have to write more than one really good book.
6. Are you truly this obsessed with Johnny Depp?
7. I have a book published and want to be interviewed on your blog. Can you hook me up?
My interviews are by invitation only. :)
8. I'd like to interview you or have you write a guest blog. Can we make that happen?
Sounds like fun! Please make sure to contact me well in advance of when you'd like the interview or guest blog to happen. Also, please note that my ability to respond to interview requests falls in direct response to looming deadlines. :)
9. Where do you get your ideas?
An easier question to answer might be "where don't you get ideas." I've yet to get a story idea while perusing the meat aisle at the grocery store. Everywhere else seems to be rife with inspiration. If everyone's brain looks like structured passage ways that transport information directly to where it needs to go, I imagine a writer's brain is missing quite a few walls. Song lyrics or song moods enter one passage way and leap over into another to collide with the facial expression of a stranger I saw last week at the airport, and then slide over a few passages before melding with the picture I saw five years ago of an old abandoned farm house by the side of a busy road and BAM, a story comes to life in my head.
10. How many story ideas do you work on at any given time?
I work on one at a time. But as I'm writing one book, I'm constantly developing three or four others. I gather research. Jot notes. Build playlists. Maybe write a prologue or a scene if one wants OUT, and then put it aside. There's value in exploring valid ideas as they come to me, but the only way to pursue a career in publishing is to finish what you start.
11. I have a book published! Want to help me promote it by hosting me on your blog or reviewing my book or tweeting about me etc etc?
How exciting that you have a book published! Yay! I don't review books on this blog, and I rarely offer guest post slots. That just isn't the kind of blog I've developed. Basically, the only book promotion I do here is the author interviews I do twice a month. For more information on those, please see question #7.
12. Do you answer your emails?
Not nearly as often as I'd like. My agent and assistant help me handle interview and appearance requests, but I am perpetually behind on my inbox.
13. I hear you have weird food issues. Is this true?
Depends what you mean by weird food issues. I don't like chocolate by itself. (I know, I know ... the blasphemy, it BURNS.), I don't care for pizza, and I hate apples and green beans. BUT I make up for all of that with a tremendous passion for lemon bars (The tarter, the better ... is tarter a word? If it isn't, it should be.), a love of chewy cinnamon candy, and ... well, I was going to balance this out by picking a favorite vegetable, but ... no.
14. How long did it take you to get published?
Seven years after I first sat down to write a complete manuscript, I sold a book. The real story, though, is that I was with my agent for two years, and went out on submission with two separate books, before I wrote a third book that finally sold. It pays to be stubborn.
15. Will you answer my writing-related questions?
Chances are, most of them are probably answered on this blog already under one of my writing-related tags. If not, Google is your next best friend because there are some writers and agents out there who write INCREDIBLE blog posts about the craft of writing and what it takes to get published.
16. The Were-llama: All Applicable Answers
*Yes, I made up the were-llama because llamas are made of WIN. If we have shape-shifting wolves and cats and birds and whatnot, why should an animal that can simultaneously spit at its enemies from EITHER END be excluded? You just can't quantify that kind of awesome.
*According to Klout, I am an expert on llamas. According to llama farmers, I know next to nothing. According to llamas, I rule them all because I have the Were-llama. Game. Set. Match.
*I might be a were-llama. But I don't spit and tell.
17. A spork? Seriously?
The spork is really the definitive eating utensil. It can both stab meat and scoop pudding. I don't know what else you could possibly ask for. And yes, the spork on this blog has aspirations for world domination. With his remarkable penchant for multi-tasking in the area of food consumption, I don't see how he can fail.
18. I see that you have other published writer friends, and you go on retreats with other writer friends, and you seem to chat/email/share Nutella with other writer friends, and I'd kind of like a piece of that action. May I?
It is AWESOME to have other writer friends with whom to share Nutella. Unless you are trying to share Nutella with Beth Revis. She will kill you over a jar of Nutella. Don't ever let her convince you otherwise.
Where was I?
Oh yes, it is AWESOME to have other writer friends and go on retreats and hang out in chat rooms etc. I didn't have that when I started out either. The best way to cultivate that is to get out there and start talking to others on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, loops. conferences ... you name it. Meet others who are where you're at in the journey. Find the ones you connect with. And then spur each other on, support each other, and look around in amazement a few years down the road as most of you are now agented and/or published.
19. Is C.J. Redwine your real name?
It is! C.J. is my first initial and my maiden name's initial, and my hubby's real last name is Redwine.
20. Will you send me free copies of your books?
Sadly, no. Not unless I'm offering a contest and you win one. I have very few author copies at my disposal, and if I bought a copy of my book for everyone who asked for one, I wouldn't have any income left over for lemon bars and sporks, and then where would I be?