You Want to Know What?

QAs a writer, I get all sorts of questions tossed at me.  Some of them are what I call repeaters, questions that get asked a lot.  For those, I have my prepared answers down pat.  Some questions are downright funny–people wanting to understand the strange mechanics of how a writer’s mind works.  I usually just make up an answer for those, because please, I don’t understand how my mind works, either.

Some of the questions are just weird, and they make me laugh.  Then there are the others that give me concerns about my fans, readers, and human population in general.  (You know who you are.)

lionHowever, no matter what category those questions fall into, most of the time, I still love being asked.  Why?  First, because curiosity generally means interest and interest could result in book sales, and second . . . I love a good laugh.

So just for grins, and laughs, let me share some of those questions.  I’ll also share my answers.  And okay, because you are who you are, I’m going to go one step further and even give you the truth.

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Question:  Do you ever take your characters with you when you go places?  (I’ve been asked that one more than once?)

Answer:  Of course, I do.  But I insist that they pay their own way, unless I have a buy-one-get-one-free coupon.

Truth:  I usually just stick them in my purse, and don’t feed them and sneak them into places without buying them a ticket.  But seriously, at times, say when I’m out shopping, I will stop and think: Would Miranda wear that outfit?  I’ll conjure her up in my mind and together we’ll shop for an outfit she’s going to wear in my next scene.

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Question:  When you hear your characters talking to you, how do you know that it’s just creativity and not that you really are crazy?

Answer:  Does it really have to be one or the other?

Truth:  Anyone who sits around all day and spends hours envisioning and writing about the lives of their characters, along with making facial expressions in the mirror so she can describe them, has to be a little bit bonkers.   I’m okay with that.

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Question: Is your husband jealous of your heroes? (This answer has variations.)

Answer if Hubby isn’t present when question is asked: “Of course, he’s jealous.  My heroes are so hot, he knows he can’t compete.”

Answer if Hubby is present:  “Jealous?  Why?  He knows I pattern all my heroes after him.”

Truth:  Just as there is a little of myself in each of my heroines, there really is a bit of my husband in all my heroes.

*  *  *

Question:  What do you do when your characters misbehave?

Answer:  I call the fiction police to arrest them and put them in solitary confinement.

Truth: I generally sit back and enjoy it.  Generally speaking when characters start acting out, those are the best scenes.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have any crazy (or not so crazy) questions for me?

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Attitude: Is it Everything it’s Cracked Up to Be?

AttitudeYou’ve all heard the saying, “If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t, you’re right too.”

You’ve heard, “It’s all in the attitude.”   Yup, you’ve heard those positive people say it, haven’t you?”

But do you believe them?

Do I believe them?

Do I believe we can think ourselves to a better life– a better place?  Do I think we can think ourselves published? Or publish at a new and bigger house, or in the genre we would prefer?  Can we think ourselves on the New York Times list?  And it doesn’t have to be about publishing, it can be any goal.  Do I believe it?

Nope.  Sorry, I don’t believe we can.  I don’t believe positive thoughts alone can bring about change.

I can hear all you negative Nellies out there shouting with glee, “Thank gawd, finally someone who’ll admit the truth!”  But before you defeatists get too excited, you’d better read on.

I don’t believe positive thoughts alone can bring about change any more than just buying the $49.95 book on being thin will automatically make the pounds melt off and help me fit back into those size five jeans.  Sadly, I’ve tried.   But I’ll have to read the book and apply the weight loss steps.

PositivePositive attitude, or in the case above, buying the book, can lead to motivation, motivation leads to action.  Actions can bring about positive results.  Actions can get us to a better place, they can get us published, get us multi-published, keep us published, and they can even land us on the New York Times.  Oh, and they can get me back in my size five jeans.

I can’t tell you how many writers I’ve seen on this path to publication who gave up their dreams.  I started writing in 1984.  My first book was out in October of 1994.  So I wasn’t an overnight success then.  But it gets better, or I should say worse.  Because after that first book, my dreams of book two and book three selling, and my dreams of that career as a novelist, well, it didn’t happen right away.  My second book didn’t release until 2007—in case you’re not good in math, that’s thirteen years later.

Now I went through some detours during those years, and while there were periods of time that I didn’t pursue the fiction writing, I never stopped writing altogether.  I wrote and sold magazine articles as my day job.  It was in 2000 when I became recommitted to my dream of novel writing.  By 2006, I had completed eight manuscripts, and six proposals.  Gone through one bad agent experience and collected hundreds of rejections.  I had two different books that got passed on to the senior editors with the recommendations to buy, only to get knocked down again.  So close.  No cigar.  Ouch.

Did I get discouraged?  You’re dang right I did.

Did I swear I was going to give up writing all together and consider a better money-making career of asking people if they wanted fries with that that burger?  You betcha.

But the next day, or even sometimes the next week, before I went out and got another job, I would realize that I didn’t want to be a quitter.  I’d start up my computer and start a new story.  I’d write fiction and still pen a few articles to bring some income.

Now today, with self-publishing always an option, the trials and hurdles of new writers will be different.  But they are still there.

Through my years, I’ve seen a lot of people give up on their writing dreams.  They had talent, some of them had so much talent I swear their grocery list was good enough to be published. But they didn’t have the staying power. They simply gave up.  Just as many of the new writers give up today.

So why?  Why do some give up, and some don’t?

Per1I think it can be summed up in one word:  Perseverance.   And how does one persevere?  I believe perseverance is directly related to positive attitude.

I meant what I said earlier, I don’t believe a positive attitude alone can bring about positive results.  But it is the secret to perseverance.  So, do I believe positive attitude is all it’s cracked up to be?

No.  I think it’s more.

Because while I don’t believe positive attitude is the direct path to success (you have to actively seek success), I do believe that negative attitude is the direct path to failure.   Negative attitude leads to a state of apathy, a state of idleness.  And those both can lead one to toss out their dreams.

I look back at how many hurdles I faced, the times it would have been easy to just give up.  The hundreds of rejections, the years passing without selling.  The difficulty of getting an agent.  Of having to fire one agent and finding another.  All of this when self-publishing wasn’t a viable option.

Instead of continuing to write, I could have been sitting around whining, commiserating about the hardships of writing with all the other writer whiners. (And writer whiners really exist. I’ve met and pulled away from many of them in my writing journey.  And they still exist.) But instead I chose to remain positive, to allow those positive feelings to help me persevere and to continue to actively pursue my dreams.  I didn’t just think about making it happen.  I set out to make it happen.

Some people think we are born either an optimist or a pessimist.  I agree it comes easier to some people.  However, I think believing you have no choice is probably your negative attitude talking.  And you need to start talking back.  Sure, we all go through some tough times, and those times can rob us of our positive attitudes if we let them.

So how do you guard your positive attitude from being ripped off?

I believe the number one thing is to work on your circle of influence.  Negativity is as contagious as a stomach virus.  Hang out with negative people, and chances are, you will become negative and disillusioned.  But the good news is that positive attitude is also contagious.  Hang out with people who are actively pursuing their dreams—those dreams don’t even have to be writing— and you’ll be more likely to do the same.

OptimistYou protect your positive attitude by setting reachable goals and celebrating them when achieved.  You keep it by recharging your creative batteries, and nothing can recharge a battery more than continuing to learn.   You keep it by refusing to let anyone steal your joy or your passion for writing.  Remember, if you are real writer, you love writing.  Your joy shouldn’t be solely attached to publishing.  Write because you love it.  It will show in your work.

Remember, you may not get where you want to be solely on attitude.  But attitude to success is like gas is to a car.  Just because you have a full tank doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get where you want to go.   But without it, you may never set out on the journey.

So work on building a positive attitude.  Then work on protecting it.  And while I hope your dreams come true a lot quicker than mine did, I hope your journey is as satisfying as I have found mine to be.

So tell me, what are your goals?

Winner!

Last week’s winner of a Born to Read t-shirt is Sarah C. Congratulations! Sarah, send your mailing address and t-shirt size to cc@cchunterbooks.com.

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What You Don’t Know About Me–Some Surprising Facts

 

Okay…let’s get to know each other.  And yes, that usually means telling secrets, or just some surprising facts.  I’ll go first, then I expect you to join in.

 

  1. Years ago, I acted in one made for television movie. Kent State.  It was filmed in my old home state in Gadsden, Alabama.  I was an extra throughout the movie, but I had one, just one, speaking part.  “Go away pigs!”  It got cut.  The reason?  Because I was supposed to sound like a northerner.  I remember them saying.  “The word ‘pigs’ is only supposed to have one syllable.”
  2. I interviewed one movie star. And yes, he is someone you would know.  Tom250px-Magnumtomselleck Selleck.  It was only  over the phone.  I thought he’d give me five minutes.  We were on the phone for almost forty-five.  Sad thing was, I was the one who had to end the call.  Yeah, I practically hung up on Tom Selleck.  I saw the time and my son was in kindergarten at the time, so I had to go pick him up.  Now I think… The kid could have waited.
  3. I speak Spanish. Yup, I lived in South America for almost two years.  And I speak it well enough that when I was there, I actually got in an argument with someone that refused to believe I was an American.  According to him, all Americans were tall.
  4. In my other life I was a photographer. I did photo journalism for about ten years. And the strange thing is that I’m not really good with recognizing people’s faces, but if I take a picture of someone, I can remember them forever.  I met a guy in a restaurant in the middle of the Chicago airport.  And I knew him, but wasn’t sure from where.  He started looking at me the same way, so  I went up to him.  He lived in Houston and I had written an article about him and his wife about ten years earlier.
  5. I believe in ghosts. No, I don’t sit around talking to them.  I’m too busy talking to my characters.  But, I’ve had too many eerie things happen to me that make it hard not to believe that spirits don’t exist.

 

5518Now, it’s your turn.  Tell me some surprising facts about you.  I’ll give away a Born to Read T-shirt to one poster.

 

 

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Paranormal Boyfriend/Girlfriend

UnbreakableSo, you’ve read my books. You know about vampires, werewolves, fae, and shapeshifters. If you had your choice of picking a paranormal boyfriend or girlfriend, which one would you pick and why?

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Back to School

image4brownsvilleYou guys know I love to visit schools.  What makes them extra special? It’s when the school has lots of students who have read my books.  And at Lopez High School in Brownsville, Texas, there were many students who had read my Shadow Falls books and were excited to talk with me about them.   Most of you have heard me say that Kylie, Lucas, Derek, Miranda, Perry, Burnett and Holiday are like my friends, but nothing is better than when I meet people who feel the same way.  So, I’ve got to say, I really had a blast meeting all the students and chatting about our mutual friends.

image3So, if you’d like me to visit your school, ask your principal or librarian to contact me at cc@cchunterbooks.com. Check my Events page on my website to see if I’ll be in a city near your school soon. Or I can make a special trip to your school.  I’d love to meet you and your friends.

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Before I went to Brownsville, I was in Las Vegas, Nevada–yup that exciting city in the desert. I went for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. The Rio Hotel, where RT held its convention, was beautiful. I only wish I’d had a little time to sit by their pool, but I was too busy having fun catching up with old friends and making new ones. The Teen Day was so awesome and the giant book signing was mobbed! But I did leave the Rio and spend one night at the Paris Hotel. It was awesome! So, here are a few of my favorite pics from my trip.

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Where is YA Going?

MidnightHour_Final CVR_revisedThere has been a lot of talk in the publishing industry and among writers about the future of YA books. Where are we headed in 2016? Which genres are hot and which are fading? Some publishers are saying the popularity of paranormals like Shadow Falls are fading. But my fans always ask me to write more. And look at the success of writers like Colleen Gleason and Cassandra Clare. Vampires, Shadow Hunters and werewoles abound!

I just read an article in the Huffington Post that said time travel story lines are an up and coming trend. And of course the twist on the old classic has been selling well for a while. Think of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 51xDeJ-9R2L._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_(there’s even a movie!) or books like Cynthia Hand’s My Lady Grey, a twist on British history’s Lady Jane Grey as a teen. Actually, I’ve heard anything with strong, royal female leads is popular. Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries helped bolster that trend–and it has kept getting stronger.  Royalty in any time period seems to go over well, especially with a strong female lead that changes things or goes against authority.

Best friend themes have been around for a while, and I don’t see them going anyplace anytime soon. Doesn’t everyone love a good story about besties that will go to great lengths for one another? But much of the YA fiction is issue driven with relatable stories filled with problems everyday teenagers face. And with the success of The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene, contemporary stories with heavier topics and “illness books” are also on the rise.

So, I’d like you to tell me your favorite YA genre and the themes that you like to read.

Catch Up With Me

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I mentioned my friend and fellow author Colleen Gleason, and if you live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, Colleen and I will be at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids on April 28th at 7:00 PM. If you haven’t read Colleen’s Stoker and Holmes series, you’re missing out! Come by Schuler’s and say hello. We’ll be giving away t-shirts and my tote bags.

 

cover-chess-queen-enigmaEvaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. 

 

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Spring at Shadow Falls

BluebonnetsI know some of you are still shoveling snow in parts of the country. But spring has come to the Texas Hill Country, and that means it has also come to Shadow Falls Camp. And boy, is it ever pretty. Every year about this time, the Texas Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes paint the hillsides with splashes of color.

 

Falls0So, I can imagine my Shadow Falls campers walking through the fields of wild flowers and swimming at the river–not too close to the falls. Unless they call to you. Then you may not have a choice.  It’s the time of the year that all the campers love. And maybe it was the Hill Country springtime that made me decide to set the Shadow Falls Camp there. I mean, isn’t it beautiful?

Rock Falls Havasuapai Photography

 

And there’s a water fall there, just outside of Austin, which reminds me of what I imagined the falls to look like. You’ll have to tell me if it’s anything like what you have imagined. Doesn’t look that scary though does it?

 

MidnightHour_Final CVR_revisedI’m excited to tell you that I finally finished writing Miranda’s book, too. And it’s going to be a real doozie! She surprised me in several ways, and I think you’re gonna love her as much as I do. I revealed the cover and title for her book last week. Midnight Hour will be released in the U.S. on October 25, 2016, but is available for pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

 

 

 

 

Bluebonnets1Anyway, happy spring! I hope wherever you live warms up soon and the wildflowers bloom. In Texas, we’re lucky to have them now.

So, have you ever been to the Texas Hill Country? What is it like where you live ?

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Cover Reveal!!

MidnightHour_Final CVR_revisedIt’s finally here! It’s so bittersweet to reveal the cover for the final chapter in the Shadow Falls series! But I have finished writing Miranda’s book. Yup, I typed “The End,” and sent it off to my editor. I can’t tell you I didn’t cry, but it felt right.  So, today I’m revealing the cover of Miranda’s book, Midnight Hour. Again, St. Martin’s has done a brilliant job. I love this cover! And Midnight Hour will be out in October 2016! But you can pre-order your copy now at all major retailers, and let me know in the comments: What do you think will happen at Shadow Falls in Midnight Hour?

 

 

fancy broomOh, I found this photo of a really cool witch’s broom, and I think Miranda needs it. It’s probably the Harley Davidson of the witch’s world. What do you think?

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Exciting News!

Unspoken_revised (1)I have some really exciting news! Last week, I learned that I am a finalist for a RITA award for Unspoken. What’s a RITA, you ask? Well, it’s a very prestigious award given out annually at the Romance Writers of America’s Conference in July. According to RWA, “The purpose of the RITA award is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas.”

And Unspoken is a finalist in the Young Adult category. I have been pinching myself and walking around on cloud nine all week! So, wish me luck when I head off to RWA’s Conference July 13-16!

 

Now, on to this week’s blog…

Last week I listed some of the crazy things I’ve Googled while writing Miranda’s book. They also provided you with some clues as to what might happen in her book. I also asked you to tell me some of the weirdest things you’ve Googled, and believe me, there were some odd ones. This week, I’m going to list a few more things I’ve Googled for Miranda’s book. Let’s see if you can guess what will happen.

How would a person say the word rape in the early 1800’s?

How many electrical volts can a human handle?

What country uses the slang word “bloody” the most?

So, any guesses based on last week’s and this week’s lists? Spiders, guns, snakes and electricity? Hmm…all I can say is that Miranda will take you on a wild ride and leave you breathless.

Winner!

The winner from last week’s giveaway is Kylie Xiong. Congratulations, Kylie! Please send your mailing address to cc@cchunterbooks.com.

 

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Do you Google?

Do you Google stuff?  Do you use Ask.com?  Well, these are my search engines while writing Miranda’s book.  And I suddenly realized that if someone peeked at my search history they would wonder what the heck I’ve been up to.  Then I realized these thing are pretty good teasers for what’s coming in Miranda’s book?  Here are seven questions I’ve asked that make me look weird, but give you hints of what Miranda and the Shadow Falls characters are up to in my next, and probably my final, Shadow Falls book.

Why exactly do meth house explode?

If a meth house exploded and a person was on the front porch, how far could she be thrown?

Do snakes have eyelids?

Are snakes colder than a dead body?

What kind of spiders lurk in the dank darkness under a house?

How do you write AK 47 the proper way?

So tell me, what strange things have you Googled?

Newsletter Giveaway!

You know I have giveaways on my blog, right? Well, did you know I also have a newsletter?  This week, one person who posts about the crazy things they Googled and tells me that they either already receive my newsletter or that they have just signed up to receive it will win a signed copy of one of my foreign editions of one of my Shadow Falls books along with a Shadow Falls book bag.  So non-subscribers go to my website Home page and sign up for my newsletter and tell me you did in the comments as well as what weird thing you’ve researched.  And those who have already signed up, also let me know in the comments,, and then tell me what wild thing some cyber spoof would find if they peeked into your search engine.

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