The best advice that I ever got regarding writing was edit. Make your story as strong as possible by editing. Read the book forward and backward, edit until you’re sick of editing and then edit some more. Have your friends (or betas) read, critique, and give you an honest response, then edit some more until it is no longer the diamond in the rough, but the bright diamond.
When did you start writing?
I started writing in high school to alleviate the sheer boredom of it all. My first book was probably pure garbage as I knew nothing of life or research and the harsh reality was that the World Wide Web didn’t exist then. But the world will never see that book because it is lost to the writing gods on three inch floppy discs (at least six of them) that can only be accessed by a Commodore 64.
What made you decide to publish your first book?
There are several factors that entered into my publishing. First, my eldest sister was on the verge of being published by Harlequin when she had a massive aneurism burst in her brain causing a stroke that left her right-side paralyzed and incapable of fulfilling that dream. Second, my personal life took a massive nose-dive and I needed an escape that didn’t end with me behind bars in an orange jumper (I look awful in orange….). Third, I was told I couldn’t do it. I tried to get a book accepted by Harlequin and a few other publishing companies and the more they rejected my books, the more determined I became. Once I won several short story contests across three different social media sites, I was more confident that my writing wasn’t crap so I took the mighty plunge and showed them all I could do it, while escaping, and I completed my sister’s dream… I even have the pictorial proof.
What motivates you to write?
Well, aside from the fact that I look horrible in prison orange jumpers, the incessant chatter from the characters that reside in my head and get positively, obnoxiously loud if I don’t syphon off some of their chatter by writing is usually a pretty strong motivator. It keeps me from going completely sane, which would be a terrifying state.
Do you ever feel frustrated with your work?
Constantly. I have times when the real world intrudes or my personal issues expand to unmanageable proportions or the characters simply shut up and the silence is deafening.
What makes you keep writing when you get frustrated?
That’s when my readers motivate me. They love my Green boys or Jeremy and his siblings or whatever and I simply can’t let them down.
How do you get over writer's block?
That is entirely dependent on what is causing the writer’s block. For me, there are different sort of block. Sometimes I get stuck and I just need to read through the file because there is something off whack and I need to fix it. Other times, my depression makes it difficult to function on any level, therefore I simply have to step away, return to the basics in that I hang out with my nerdlings, read more, that sort of thing.
How do you handle negative reviews of your books?
They’re beautiful. Seriously. I have such a terrible time getting reviews of any kind that I do a complete happy dance over them.
There's a lot of distractions around, especially with social media, how do you block it all out and write?
I actually do the majority of my social media hopping, book sales monitoring, and all that jazz during the daytime hours when my time is more limited due to the schedules that my nerdlings have. Once everyone is in bed, the house is quite with the exception of the dog snoring, that’s when I write.
What do you enjoy, outside of writing?
I love to hang out and play games or watch movies with my nerdlings. I’m also a quilter… I prefer to hand stitch a wholecloth quilt or design an intricate patchwork quilt but the lack of space inhibits this bit of fun. I’m an avid reader and gamer as well. The nerdlings get their habits honestly.
What's something about you that most people don't know?
Well, this is difficult to say. I prefer to not have secrets… I’m funny that way. But if I had to nail one thing down that most people don’t know about me, is that I write fantasy for young readers under the name C. K. Brewer.
Have you ever had to rewrite portions of a book because the characters decided to be someone else than you intended?
Nope. I’m a “seat of the pants” type of writer. My characters direct me from start to finish, I am simply the transcriptionist for them.
Where do you come up with the names for your stories?
Again, as a “seat of the pants” type writer, I just go with it and they always just seem to present themselves. I’ve never really had to work at finding a title or a character name or anything of the sort. The only drawback is that I’m at their mercy until they present themselves.
Did you ever think you'd be a published author?
I never thought I’d be an adult, a mom, a divorcee, or a million other things, author is most definitely on that list.
What are you working on currently? -Title -Date of Release –
I am working on:
~ DragonStar (as C. K. Brewer) - no set release as yet;
~ In Angel’s Arms – no set release yet;
~ This Crazy Life (Book 3 of the Crazy Mountain Series & 4th Green Brothers Novels) – release sometime in 2016;
~ The Art of Forgiving (Book 2 of the Picture of Love Series & 5th of the Green Brothers Novels) – release sometime in 2016;
~ Devil’s Night – no set release as yet;
~ Yesterday’s Hope (A Campbell Family Novel) – no set release as yet;
~ The Artist’s Love (Second half of The Artist’s Touch Epic Romance) – release day is December 18, 2015.
Where did you get the idea for it?
Which one? LOL
~ DragonStar was my response to the lack of challenging reading with appropriate content for younger readers. I have three profoundly gifted nerdlings who read three+ levels above their grade. 9 year olds who can comprehend Game of Thrones should not read it anyway.
~ The Green Brothers Novels (The Crazy Mountain Series and The Picture of Love Series) began when I requested that my readers “Prompt my Muse” in a Facebook event. My friend Gemma A. in England won the contest by submitting “Depth of Distance” by Ben Howard as a prompt. The song made me think of the mountains in Montana that I love so much and brought about Austin Green and his twin brother, Adam. Austin’s series is the Crazy Mountain one and Adam’s is The Picture of Love one.
~ Devil’s Night is the product of my crazy imagination running wild every time I drive past a specific rental duplex. It’s weird and all, but the place has inspired an incredibly intense storyline.
~ Yesterday’s Hope is a Campbell Family story. When I finished Shy of Tomorrow about Jeremy Campbell, my readers begged me to write the rest of the Campbell triplet’s stories. This one is Kameron Campbell’s story. When it’s finished, it will be a standalone novel, as Shy of Tomorrow is but will be part of the Family of Books along with Loren’s story that will come along eventually.
~ The Artist’s Touch is, again, the result of my imagination running wild, this time to the horror of my eldest nerdling. The inspiration for Spencer St. George is a highly glamourized version of the art teacher of the middle school for gifted students that my eldest attended for three years.
~ In Angel’s Arms… I have absolutely no idea where in the deepest, darkest pits of my imagination this came from. When I started writing it, I was genuinely concerned that it was too dark, too heavy, and too disturbing to be completed, much less published. Thankfully, my beta team has convinced me that it’ll be okay.
When is the cover reveal?
~ The Artist’s Love cover reveal will be the first week of December and will be a soft reveal as it’s the second half of the epic romance.
~ This Crazy Life and The Art of Forgiving will be revealed sometime in 2016.
~The others… no bloody clue. LOL I should probably finish them first.
Do you ever write characters you hate?
Yes. In every book there is at least one character that I simply cannot stand. Introspectively, I realize that each of these characters have some sort of memory connection to someone in my personal life who I have strong negative feelings toward. Now I’m a little unnerved…
Who is your favorite character that you've written?
At this particular instance in time, I have four top characters who sort of tie for position.
I love Jeremy Campbell (Shy of Tomorrow) and he’s tied with Spencer St. George (The Artist’s Touch) for first place.
Then there is Paul Morgan (The Gentleman’s Lady) and Fiona Harper (The Crazy Mountain Series) who tie for second.
What was your first published book?
Always My Love was the first.
How do you feel about it now?
I love Always My Love because it was my proof that I could do it and there is a lot of me and my hopes in that book. Also, it clearly illustrates just how far I’ve come in two and a half very short years.
Where did you get the idea for your books?
Life. Music, random buildings, random people, random thoughts… most of these things are cultivated in my meditation chamber (AKA the shower). LOL
Were there any scenes in it that were difficult for you to write?
All sex scenes are a nightmare. Is it a viable position, is it too much description, not enough detail, am I overusing the same words? All the fun of sex gets lost in the transcribing. LOL
Do you have a favorite genre to write?
I prefer contemporary romance or fantasy.
Is there a type of genre you refuse to write?
Paranormal anything… I tried it once for a contest I was in and I totally hated it and thought every single thing I wrote for the contest sucked.
Also anything that is “step-sibling” or “priest” as MC’s… I can’t warp my mind into thinking those are remotely interesting or attractive.
Do you prefer your books in print or e-book format?
I prefer to read a paperback for the most part, however, given that I live in the soggy PNW, eBooks are handy since my tablet fits in my purse. When I’m quilting, then I listen to books on CD.
What are you currently reading?
I have on my tablet: DragonStar so that I can edit the weak places; Water Weaver by Morgan Sheppard; and Walk in the Woods by M. A. Scott.
In print, I’m reading The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.
What is your favorite book?
The answer to this is entirely dependent upon genre.
For instance, I love Wallbanger by Alice Clayton; Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling; The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison… and so it goes. LOL
Who is your favorite author?
Again, this is genre specific.
I love pretty much anything by Brandon Mull; I love the Gabriel series by Sylvain Reynard and have willingly read his paranormal offshoot in spite of my intense dislike for paranormal in general. I have a bunch of Johanna Lindsey for historical romance… sorry, can’t just like one.
Do you have any excerpts from any of your books (published and WIPs) that you'd like to share with us?
Hmmm… are you prepared for that? LOL
Here is a bit from This Crazy Love, the first book of the Crazy Mountain Series and the first Green Brothers Novel. Introducing Austin Green and, Fiona Harper, his unwilling roommate for the summer at a dude ranch in the heart of the Crazy Mountains in Montana…
Austin opened the cabin door just as the bathroom door opened and a woman screamed in surprise. Taken off guard himself, Austin let loose a string of curses. The woman sat on the toilet seat, her hand over her heart and her eyes squeezed shut as she tried to calm down. Austin, recovering quickly, paused and perused the occupant of the bathroom. He had no idea what color her hair was as it was wrapped Carmen Miranda style in one of the small white towels that were in the bathroom. A second white towel was wrapped around her chest, barely covering her.
She was beautiful, with a sweetheart face that, while it was too pale at the moment, hinted at dimples. Her skin was smooth and, he noticed, pierced… she had an eyebrow ring and a small stud in her nose. The quantity of metal in her ears astounded him. From her left ear, Austin’s eyes travelled to the graceful tattoo of a red dragon that wrapped around her upper arm then disappeared onto her back where he assumed the tail was because the head of the dragon came over her shoulder and down to rest just above where the towel started.
“I’m very sorry I surprised you… I didn’t know anyone else was here,” Austin apologized softly as he took in a second tattoo that was on her upper left thigh. It was a magnificent phoenix that was rising in all of its majestic glory amid flames that were soft and not outlined.
“I’m sorry I screamed. What are you doing here?” she asked with a scowl. “This is my cabin.”
“You must be Fiona… Bri’s sister. I’m Austin and this is my cabin as well.”
“Oh hell no! You can’t stay here!” Fiona protested immediately.
“Well, that’s tough shit, Sweetcheeks, I was here first,” Austin countered and turned to go to his side of the cabin. He heard her mutter ‘the roommate’ as she left the bathroom. Austin turned and saw that his assumption had been correct in that the tail of the dragon curved gracefully down to rest on her shoulder blade. As she turned into her side, the towel gapped and he saw a long ragged scar that arced down her right hip and tattooed in the inside curve of the scar was some Japanese Kanji.
“Enjoying the view, Cowboy?” Fiona scowled with narrowed eyes.
Austin cocked an eyebrow and replied arrogantly, “Yes Sweetcheeks, I am. Nice tats.”
Fiona smiled haughtily then closed the door to her side with a slam. Austin choked back a chuckle when the top half popped open. He strode to her door and grinned. He took one last blatant inventory of her body before closing the top half of the door.
©2015 This Crazy Love S. H. Pratt
Or perhaps you’d like to meet Jeremy and his Kylee, the shy librarian who steals his heart in Shy of Tomorrow…
“Look, beautiful Kylee, if this is going to work… you need to talk to me, my girl… or am I to revert to incessant chatter until you crack again?” Jeremy smirked.
And again with the possessive… it was starting to go to her head. And what was the ‘this’ he was talking about? Was there a ‘this’?
“You… this?” Kylee stammered with a confused frown. Her heart kept being fickle, flying as though it desperately wanted out of her chest then stalling in abject refusal to beat on.
“What this?” Jeremy asked, nonplussed.
“Right… my question exactly,” Kylee agreed. Jeremy shook his head with his eyes shut tight as though trying to shake some sense into the conversation.
“Wait… what? You’ve lost me.” He admitted.
“You keep talking all weird, possessive, and then you said this. What this?” Kylee finally asked and lowered her head, mortified that she’d actually asked the question she’d promised herself she wouldn’t ask. She felt his fingers on her chin and resisted.
“Please look at me,” Jeremy whispered. Kylee let him bring her chin up and she looked at him warily. “Possessive?”
“What does that mean, Kylee? I really am lost here.”
“You keep saying your girl… your… your…” Kylee couldn’t bear to say her name out loud as she stammered. Jeremy looked at her for a long minute before she saw the light of comprehension dawn in his beautiful stormy eyes. She dropped her head again, afraid to hear that she was imagining things. Again he brought it back up.
“I’d like it if you were my girl,” he admitted in a whisper. Kylee couldn’t breathe… couldn’t think… couldn’t believe her ears. He wanted her to be his girl? How could he know that already? He smirked and said with laughter in his voice, “Oh no, I broke the brain to mouth connection again.”
“Breathe, please,” he said after a long minute in which Kylee was dizzy and giddy and lost. She took a long, gasping breath, became drunk off the smell of him, and dropped her head to the table. Her inclination was to bang her head on the table, but she simply didn’t see how making a scene would help her understand or believe.
“You start banging your head and I’m going to get upset,” he said warningly in a low voice and Kylee’s head shot up, her eyes wide with disbelief that he’d read her thoughts again. “Again, Kylee, if this is going to work you have to talk to me.”
“This?” she breathed.
“This… us… you and me. Do you want to be an ‘us’?” Jeremy asked and Kylee swallowed.
“Why would you want to?” she gasped in shock.
“Do I really have to list all of the reasons?”
“All of the reasons?” she asked slowly in a tiny voice.
“Yes, my dear… all of the reasons.”
“There are reasons?”
Jeremy laughed and Kylee felt herself melting in the warmth of the deep, smooth sound. “Baby girl, I’ve lost count of the reasons you enchant me.”
©2014 Shy of Tomorrow S. H. Pratt
I’ll stop after this sneak peek at Malaki James (need a visual? Think of Nicolas Simoes, I do) from In Angel’s Arms…
“Please don’t go,” he pleaded, the tremors back in his hands. Emsley frowned in confusion.
“Why not? Are you afraid of the dark?” She asked, half teasing.
“No. But right now, you are the only thing keeping me from going out and finding the biggest bottle of Vodka in the history of mankind.”
“And why shouldn’t you?”
Malaki took a deep breath, the room closing if further. “Because I’m an alcoholic, Emsley. And Penny needs me to not be Mr. Hyde.”
Malaki’s heart raced painfully, the rest of his body beginning to join the tremors in his hands and the air became so thin that he couldn’t breathe. Emsley put a hand on his arm and the pressure eased.
“I had no idea,” she frowned sympathetically.
“No one does, except Connor. But with Max gone with Connor and Penny, I just realized that there is nothing but you to stop me from getting in that car out there in the drive.”
“You don’t have keys.”
“I don’t need keys,” Malaki scoffed indignantly. “I was hot wiring cars at the age of thirteen. By the time I was fourteen, I could boost a car in under a minute.”
Emsley gaped at him and Malaki knew he’d shocked her. Of course his parents wouldn’t have shared that part of their son’s life… it wasn’t part of the rosy picture. She wrapped her delicate hand around his muscular arm and led him down into the sunken living room. Emsley pushed him to sit on the couch and went to press the switch that lit the gas fireplace. She sat down next to him and lifted his arm over her shoulders and snuggled tight against his side. Oh god, can she know just how badly I need her touch?
“I’m not sure I heard you correctly. Did you say you were a car thief?” Emsley asked finally.
“I used to be. That’s how I met Connor. I kept trying to find the fastest and most dangerous cars to steal so that I could street race them.”
“At thirteen?” Emsley exclaimed.
“I was very tall for my age and most people thought I was at least sixteen. No one ever asked for a driver’s license.”
©2015 In Angel’s Arms S. H. Pratt
Humor me, because this is my favorite (mythical) animal: Would you ever consider putting a platypire in one of your books?
I absolutely would consider putting a platypire in a fantasy book… however, my hitch would be the “pire” part would indicate “vampire” which then leads into my arch-nemesis, paranormal. LOL