Summer & Sneak Peeks Into a New Series

50955Well, Memorial Day has come and gone. Do you know what that means? Summer is here! School is ending and many of you are off on vacation. I love summer, and even the Texas heat doesn’t get to me. Well, not usually, but I am thankful for A/C.

Every summer I try to take a beach vacation. You know, rent a nice house with a big deck or balcony overlooking the ocean. But just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean I’m not working.  I’ll admit it, my lap top goes with me on that balcony while I’m trying to let the spirit of the ocean breeze inspire me.

And then there’s the fact that my characters never stop talking to me. Even my Shadow Falls characters still pop in to let me know what’s happening with them. They’re like old friends. I’ve even introduced them to some of my new friends. Sound crazy? Yeah, Hubby thinks so too, but he accepts me.

And I think you will too.  Because those new friends are about to become characters in a C.C. Hunter series.  My heroine, seventeen-year-old Riley Smith, is sharp, a little sassy if called upon, and she’s got spunk to spare.

Oh, but she has her share of problems.  Her mom passed away when she was four, her dad, who in the past has always been responsible, has recently lost two jobs.  Which meant they’ve moved twice in the last year and a half.  She lost the boy she thought was the love of her life.  She lost the best friend she thought she’d graduate with, go to college with.

She’s alone.  Well, except Daddy’s clients who end up following him home.

Daddy’s clients who want something.

Daddy’s clients who are dead.

The Mortician’s Daughter isn’t scheduled yet, but we’re thinking it will be out around October. I’ll let you know as soon as I have a release date.

It’s a little spooky, has tons of heart, laughs, some mystery, and shows Riley trying to navigate being the new kid in school while ghosts are lining up for her help.

Anyway, I hope you’re doing some wonderful things this summer. Taking trips, reading fantastic books, chilling with friends. Whatever makes you happy.

So, what are your summer plans?

Three Tips for Writing a Young Adult Paranormal Series

med_bamWhen I was asked to try my hand at writing young adult paranormal, I was scared to death at the thought of writing in another genre. However, I love a challenge. So, I gave it my best shot. Ten books later, I can say I’ve learned quite a lot. And  while many of you are fans who just love to read, I get many emails telling me that lots of you also aspire to be writers. I think that’s great, and I’ve written several blogs filled with advice (and you can find them by typing in “writing” in the search box). But I thought I’d share another piece I wrote fro Briana Ryan’s blog that is more specific to YA paranormal for those of you interested in that genre. So here are three important tips.

 

  1. It doesn’t matter if you are writing vampires, shape-shifters, or hunchback dragons, if you are writing for teens you need to get in touch with your inner teen.

I didn’t set out to write young adult novels.  I was dragged here kicking and screaming.  LOL.  I was writing humorous romantic suspense novels.  When I was approached to write a YA series.  You see, it had been quite a few years since I’d been a teen.  Did I know what was important to today’s teens?  Did I know what they wanted, what they feared, what made them laugh?  I worried I’d fail at trying to write from a teen’s perspective.  So the first thing I did was take a stroll down memory lane.  It wasn’t a walk in the park either.  You see, I didn’t have what I would call the ideal teenage life.  It wasn’t until midway through that mental journey did I realize this was going to work in my favor.  I decided right then and there to plagiarize.  From my own life, of course.   Along this path, I realized that everything that had been important to me as a teen was still relevant to teens today.  As a young adult I’d dealt with: sex, alcohol, drugs, and self-esteem issues.  These are still what our teens deal with today.  And to write a novel that will resonate with teens, you need to be able to remember how you related to, feared, longed for, and dealt with those four things.

  1. Don’t attempt to write a message to the young people.

It’s important to remember that your job as a novelist is to entertain.  Definitely not to preach.  Not to teach, or even to inspire.  Now, before you start getting your back up, let me explain.   Preaching is out.  Completely.  Today’s teens do not want to be preached at.  Nor do they read novels to be taught something.  They read text books to be taught.  They don’t pick up fictional books to be inspired to be a better person.  They read to be entertained.

That said, books can be fabulous tools that teens can learn from and can offer tons of inspiration.  But as an author, if you try to do this, you might fail.  You see, it’s not you who should do this.  It’s your characters.  Whatever lessons your characters face will offer an opportunity for the reader to learn.  Whatever inspires your character is a chance to inspire your reader.   Most story characters have arcs.  They will grow within a book’s lifespan.  Find your character’s arc, show them struggling to overcome hurdles, show their growth.  And while your readers turn those pages, enthralled with your story, your book will have offered them not only entertainment, but something that may help them as they journey through their own lives.

  1. Never Give up!

You have to love to write and love to learn in order to make it the writing business.  The journey from unpublished author to published author can be difficult.  More difficult for some than others.  Each of us starts this journey with our strengths and weaknesses.   Some writers were born knowing what a dangling participle is.  Some are comma impaired and terrible spellers.  Some are natural story tellers.  Some have learned pacing and conflict just from reading.   Others have read all their life and still need learn the tricks of the trade.  The truth is, more important than what you know is your willingness to learn.  And how long you will persevere.

Being dyslexic, I struggled with the written word.  The day I decided to become a writer, I had to learn to spell it.   If I had any natural talent it was storytelling, but I was even given that in rough draft.  It was ten years from the time I started writing to the time I published my first book.  That might sound tough, but it got tougher.  It was thirteen more years before my second book was sold. Some people think of me as an overnight success, and I want to ask them, “Exactly what night was it in those twenty-three years that it happened?”

It was not one night.  It was a journey.  As rejections rolled in, and I have thousands of them, it would have been easy to give up.  But being a writer was my dream.  I was willing to take this journey even knowing there were no guarantees.  Why?  Because I loved writing.  And that is my parting advice.  Write because you love it.  There is nothing wrong with working toward publication and financial gain.  But if that was the reason I was writing, I don’t think I’d hung in there twenty-three years.

So, are you one of my fans that hopes to become a writer? If so, what is it you want to write?

CC Interview

Recently, I answered some questions for Briana Ryan’s blog. Some of these questions are things my fans ask me a lot, and some of these questions are just interesting. So, I thought I’d repost the interview here for you.

1.When did you decide to start writing books?

First, Briana, thank you so much for having me at your blog.  I’ve love sharing my story with readers.  Now, to answer your question – It’s all my hubby’s fault.  You see, I was born in Alabama and I come from a long line of storytellers.  Some of my earliest memories are sitting around with my family, listening to them tell stories.  Now I’ll be honest.  In my family, the truth never got in the way of our telling a good story, which is why our stories often got bigger, and better, each time we told them.  What was important was making people laugh and, boy howdy, did we laugh a lot in my family.  Before long, I was telling my own stories, too.  As for writing those stories down on paper, well, that didn’t happen until later and that’s where my hubby comes in.

I was a new bride in my early twenties and Hubby asked me what I wanted to do with my life.  He thought I would say I wanted to become a school teacher and would go to college and get the education I needed.  Now, I do love teaching other people but I thought about it for a moment and then I told him I wanted to be a writer.  Only problem was, I was dyslexic.  That meant I sometimes got my words mixed up or I just flat-out left them out completely when I tried to put my stories down on paper.  So becoming a writer was a lot harder for me than for most people.  I had to learn how to deal with my dyslexia right along with learning how to write.  But the struggle was worth it.  I can’t imagine doing anything else.

2. How did you decide what type of supernatural each of the main characters would be in the (Shadow Falls series)?

Oh, that’s a great question.  Now, I know this answer will sound a little strange but it’s the truth.  Here’s what happened when I started creating the characters for Shadow Falls—I let the characters define themselves.

Now, I knew that I would have vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, witches and faes in the series.  I just didn’t know which character would be which type of supernatural, and that is where the characters themselves came in.  I started with Kylie and then I moved on to the other characters.  For example, when Della first appeared, she had this impenetrable wall around her that she wouldn’t let anyone get past.  She came across as being tough but I knew that the toughness probably had a lot to do with things that had happened to her, and once Della and I “talked,” I found out I was right. But now, having known Della for several books, can you imagine her as anything but a vampire?  I know I can’t.  She embodies the very nature of that species.  And that is the way it worked for the other characters, too—once they appeared, they let me know which species they were.  Well, all of them except for Kylie, of course—but that’s only because she wasn’t quite sure where she fit in.

3. How did you come up with the story line of the Shadow Falls series?

The idea of the paranormal summer camp actually came from my editor Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s Press/Griffin.  And that’s all she said to me, too—”paranormal camp.”  She expected me to come up with the rest.  But you know what?  Those two words were enough to get my imagination going.  Once I got Kylie figured out, the rest of the characters sprang to life, and each of them brought a piece of the plotline with them.   Now, I’ll be honest.  When I started Born at Midnight, the first book in the Shadow Falls series, I had no idea how the story would end.  And now that I’m starting the final book, Chosen at Nightfall, I still have no idea which boy Kylie will end up with or what will ultimately happen to her and her friends at Shadow Falls Camp/Academy.  But that’s okay.  That’s how my writing process works—I learn the specifics of the book as I write it.  And I gotta be honest.  I think that’s why I love writing so much—I love finding out how the story ends, right along with my characters.

4. How did you decide what Kylie’s friends would be?

Well, as I said above, the characters are the ones who tell me who they are.  Believe me, I’ve tried to tell them but that just doesn’t work out.  For example, I can start writing a story where I *think* I know who the bad guy is, only to find out as I get about to the end that I was wrong.  So I’ve learned to let the characters lead the way.  Often, I don’t find out what is going to happen next until they do.  I know it sounds a little crazy but that’s what works for me.

5. Did you cut out or scrap any characters during the writing process?

That’s a good question.  Back when I was learning how to write—we’re talking about twenty something years ago at this point—I did have to scrap whole scenes and even whole characters because it was necessary for the story.  Of course, I was learning the process then, learning what worked for me and what didn’t.  It’s something every writer has to figure out on her own.  Now, I generally have a better handle on the writing process so I don’t usually have to cut out characters.

6. If you were a Supernatural like the ones in shadow falls what would you be? Would you be rogue, a Shadow Falls Camper on your own out in the world doing your own thing, or working for the FRU full time? 

Hmm.  It’s hard for me to answer because I’ve made some changes to the mythology for many of my supernaturals in the Shadow Falls series.  Some of them, like vampires, shape-shifters, and werewolves, can be scary but once you get to know them as characters, you’ll realize they all have some good qualities.   I think that’s what makes it so hard for me to choose—I don’t want to be unfaithful to any of my characters.  LOL.  But if I had to choose, I’d probably go with either a witch or a fae.  I think these characters offer the most options . . . although I think it would be totally cool to be able to fly like a vampire does.  LOL.

Now, as for what I would do if I were in the Shadow Falls universe . . . that’s a great question.  First, I know I’m not cut out to be a rogue.  I feel more comfortable being around friends and family, rather than going it alone.  So, I’d probably work for the FRU, though I’m no where near as brave as Kylie.  I admire her determination and the way she is fearless in the face of danger to her friends and loved ones.  I feel that way about my kids; I think it’s a Mom thing, really.

7. Anything to say to aspiring authors just starting out?

You know, I’m often asked to speak to a group of aspiring writers and when I do, I tell them the same things I tell anyone who has a dream they cherish.  Namely, believe in yourself.  Believe in your dream.  And don’t give up, no matter how many rejections you may accumulate.  Stay strong and keep working toward your goals.  If it’s writing, take writing classes, attend writers’ conferences and soak up as much knowledge as you can while you’re there.  And read.  Read widely.  Read anything and everything you can get your hands on.  And most of all, never let anyone steal your dream from you.  Because I don’t care what the “experts” will tell you about the odds of making your dream a reality.  I heard it all, too.  I was a dyslexic high school drop-out when I decided I wanted to make my living as a writer.  Believe me, the experts didn’t think I had a good chance of making it.  If I’d listened to them, I never would.  But I listened to myself.  I believed in myself.  And I made it.  You can, too.

Back To School For CC

Smilebox_4104696810Recently, I made a visit to West Oso Junior High and High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. I gotta tell you, I had a blast! There was a lot of laughter and a lot of sharing with so many students. I love visits where I walk away and feel as if I made friends. Here are a few photos from that visit.

 

A month ago, I had another great visit at Caney Creek High School inSmilebox_4104696808 Conroe, Texas.  And just last week, I went and spoke to at an award ceremony for Ganado High School in Ganado, Arizona.  I can tell you that there was a time I worried about our teens, but after doing school visits, I can seriously say I think our world is good hands.

 

 

Smilebox_4104696818I love meeting the young students, answering their questions and signing my books for them.  I love talking about Kylie, Della, and Miranda’s struggles and how I plagiarized from my own life to create so many of their issues.  It is so rewarding when students tell me they can relate to these characters and the hurdles they had to overcome.  Not that it is a complete surprise to me that reading about strong characters help others find courage and strength in themselves.  In truth, writing about them offers its own inspiration as well.

 

Smilebox_4104696804I get lots of emails from young fans asking me to come to their school. I wish I could do visits for free, but I can’t.  That said, I love visiting schools, and I try to work with their budgets.  And I always tell students they need to have their principal or librarian contact me through my email (cc@cchunterbooks.com). So, if you’d like me to come to your school to talk or teach a writing workshop, email me and ask.  I also speak and teach writing workshops at writers’ conferences.

Summer Reads

gulfofmexicoSummer. It will be here before you know it. Soon school will be out and families will be going on vacation. Some will head to the beach, others to the mountains or perhaps faraway lands. I love the beach, I’m a beach girl. Maybe because I grew up in Alabama near the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.  I have lots of great memories staying at the beach with my family, picnics on the sand–swimming in the warm water. Now, I try to take a beach vacation every summer. Someplace I can sit on a deck overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and read.  So right about now is when I start looking for good books to take with me.

the-gulf-of-mexico-onSo, help me out here. If I was heading for a beach vacation, can you recommend a book I shouldn’t leave without tucking it into my suitcase?