All Things Writing

Interview with Author, C.J. Ellisson

October 03, 2020 Bryan the Writer/C.J. Ellisson Season 1 Episode 28
All Things Writing
Interview with Author, C.J. Ellisson
All Things Writing
Interview with Author, C.J. Ellisson
Oct 03, 2020 Season 1 Episode 28
Bryan the Writer/C.J. Ellisson

One of the best parts about this program is being able to hang out with friends in the writing world. Today, I have the greatest honor of welcoming New York Times, and USA Today best selling author C.J. Ellisson. 

On this episode we are going to talk about all kinds of things including; 

  • What was her path and what started her down that road.
  • What attracted her to the genre she finally settled on. 
  • What her process is for planning out her next book.
  • What drives authors to rewrite books.
  • What challenges did she face with her family and how did she overcome those obstacles.
  • How to face health challenges and still make words happen on the page.

Wanna know more? Check her out at

C.J. Ellisson on Facebook

Remember, if you like the show, please hit "Like" and follow the show. You can also buy me a cup of coffee to help support my efforts at

Support the show (

Buzzsprout - Let's get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Show Notes Transcript

One of the best parts about this program is being able to hang out with friends in the writing world. Today, I have the greatest honor of welcoming New York Times, and USA Today best selling author C.J. Ellisson. 

On this episode we are going to talk about all kinds of things including; 

  • What was her path and what started her down that road.
  • What attracted her to the genre she finally settled on. 
  • What her process is for planning out her next book.
  • What drives authors to rewrite books.
  • What challenges did she face with her family and how did she overcome those obstacles.
  • How to face health challenges and still make words happen on the page.

Wanna know more? Check her out at

C.J. Ellisson on Facebook

Remember, if you like the show, please hit "Like" and follow the show. You can also buy me a cup of coffee to help support my efforts at

Support the show (

Buzzsprout - Let's get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Bryan Nowak: Welcome to episode number 28 of all things writing a huge thank you to the regular listeners. And those of you who maybe have just wandered onto the podcast. If you love what I'm doing, and you want to support the cast, please tell your friends out there in the world and share the goodness. early on. I stated the goal of my little podcast here was to help other writers along the way, if I could, I certainly don't know it all I'm pretty sure no one does. I still have yet to meet the person who does know everything. If you find them, pump them down, grab them by leg because I've got questions that I really want answered. And I know there's tons of other authors who would be in the same boat. As the saying goes, a rising tide raises all ships and in the writing world that is absolutely true. We help each other that's what makes the writing community great. We lend a hand we reach down while simultaneously reaching up and that I think is a beautiful thing. My guests that I have today embodies that giving spirit. She is someone I met a couple of years ago, and is easily one of the most creative people I think I've ever met. She's an amazing author, super artsy, and on top of that, she's one of the most organized persons I think I've ever met. So, welcome to the show. award winning author CJ Ellison CJ, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?


Unknown Speaker  1:41  

Sure. Thanks for having me today. Brian's really fun to be here my day. Um, I started writing back in 2009. But if I want to tell you a little bit about myself, I guess I should start from the beginning. I'm married. I live in Northern Virginia, I have two kids one's almost 20 and one's almost 18. And now I'll jump forward to the exciting part. I started writing in 2009. Let's see I write fiction and nonfiction. My nonfiction is more for writers about organizing your work. And basically making sure you can move forward and know where you're going and know where you've been. And never telling someone This is how you do it. But encouraging people to find their own way and giving them more ideas. My fiction work I write fantasy, which falls into the category of urban fantasy, and also contemporary fantasy, I also write contemporary romance and erotica. And I've also gone into mystery where I'm going to be writing cozy mysteries. But I love reading all the genres. So it's kind of all of it out there.


Bryan Nowak: By the way, I was gonna say I love cozy mysteries. I read pretty agnostically and I love cozy mysteries for some reason.


Unknown Speaker  2:48  

I really do. I love them for how fun they are. Yeah, exactly. Let's say, um, I have 12 fiction books published. If you want to be technical, it's not quite sure how many nonfiction because some of them became like other workshop book, another like reiterations of the same one. So maybe four or five nonfiction titles. I hit the New York Times bestseller list, and I hit the USA Today list twice. So let's say I battled numerous health conditions, which is something that you and I both have in common. I've beaten Lyme babesia bartonella, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, still working on Candida. I had a kidney, kidney issues at one time. And all this on top of rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, celiac, sjogrens, and usin, a philic esophagitis. So it's one of those things where I came to writing because of all the illnesses, but we'll cover that later. So that's more about just in a nutshell, who I am as a writer and as a mom.


Bryan Nowak:  And by the way, her kids are the coolest kids ever. ine are kind of lame. But you know, that's I wouldn't say


Unknown Speaker  3:55  

that. All of our kids have those opportunities of being really cool, and really lame and really regular. And just like what are you doing?


Unknown Speaker  4:01  

You know, they just, well, of course, I kid all of our kids are wonderful, because they have wonderful parents. We both know that.


Unknown Speaker  4:09  

They can make a good joke, you know, we can tease at them. And you know this spot?


Unknown Speaker  4:13  

Yeah, absolutely. So now, you and I have talked about this in the past, but I wanted to have you share a little bit of your writing career in terms of the path that you took. And I guess what was the most surprising thing that you You came upon as you started down that road? What shocked you?


Unknown Speaker  4:35  

I think that's a great question, because I don't know how a lot of other people come to writing for each of us. We come to it in our own time, right whenever it's right for us. Some people start writing really early, they just they get into it really young. This is their passion, their calling, they've always loved it. That wasn't the case for me. I've always been a really avid reader and really loved reading and one night at a book club meeting in write it like down the street from where I live. And with a whole bunch of ladies, the wine is flowing. And after a while two of them admit, hey, I'm writing a book. And you know, we're all like sharing and learning. That's great. Tell us about it. What are you doing? And, you know, there was that little bit of a, you know, I guess, wine evil person in my head that came out, like, why are they writing a book? And I can't write a book, like, they're not any smarter than I am. Like, if they can write, why can't I? And so when my friends drove me home from the book club party, and then wanted to know, like, hey, what was your book idea? And I told her, and she said, Oh, you need to sit down and start writing. And I just thought, yeah, that's the wine talking, honey. Sure, sure. And she calls me a couple days. And she's like, did you start? I told you, you should really start writing, I felt like, Oh, you were serious. Okay, so I started writing, with absolutely no direction, no idea where I was going, just a concept. And I learned along the way, you know, what I needed to do and how I need to fix things. She was the one that read my first chapter and said, Oh, my God, you're a natural, I never would have expected that you actually know how to write and you did it well, and I fell back on Well, I've been reading three to five books a week for like, I don't even know how many years 30 years. So that's a lot of books, you start to see what you like and what you don't like, and you move on from there. So as far as what was the most surprising thing, I'd say, once I started writing and writing seriously, where it was, okay, this is really going to happen, I I'm going to write a book, I'm going to sit down and write a whole damn book. And you know, then figuring out about like, Chapter 10, or 12, like, hey, might be better if I hadn't that line, because I don't know Where in the hell I'm going. You know, like I really had to backtrack and fill things in. The most surprising thing was, as I started to really connect with other peers, and meet other writers, and I learned more about the industry, I was incredibly shocked how many of them were willing to accept what traditional publishing was going to hand them. You know, I said, like, let's just do some simple math here. You sell a book for $10. And you're with a traditional publisher, you'll be lucky if you make between 70 cents and $1 on that book, Do you understand this? And so as I was talking to people, everybody was so focused on, can I get an agent, can I land my, my book at a publisher who's going to take my book, they would just be so grateful for any attention that they didn't really stand back and actually take a look at the publishing model of what they were doing. So when I started this in 2009, and I started really talking seriously about like, Hey, why are we all settling for this? Aren't you seeing that new program? They're doing an Amazon where, like, people are putting their books out what maybe we should do that and I got poo pooed that I got talked down to I got, you know, so much abuse over it. And I thought, Okay, well, I guess I better go the traditional route. So I found an agent. And she shot my book around. And when I realized, like, what, how incredibly lengthy this process was, I set my agent down. I told her, you have six months, six months to sell my book. And if you can't sell my book in six months, I'm going to publish it. And I'm going to do it myself. Yeah, yeah.


Unknown Speaker  7:48  

We had moments where it went to, you know, the acquisition editor, and it seemed like it was gonna happen, and it didn't. And I just thought like, is this what the rest of my life is going to be like, I have to deal with rejection after rejection. Now, I was a person before I became a writer where I owned my own small business. And when I say small, I didn't mean very small. But it was enough to make me some money and keep things going. I didn't have a lot of employees or anything like that. But it made me realize if I could start a small business that way, why couldn't I do it with my writing. So I learned everything I needed to learn. And I set myself up as a traditional publisher, not as just self published, I went through the whole bit with LLC and make sure I had a legally fictitious name, and everything was done properly. And then, when I announced what I was going to do to my new peers, my new friends from all these writers, I had met online, same thing, I got trashed, I got talked down, I got to do it. And then once I started to get things rolling, and authors that I knew well, or I should say, pre published authors, I knew well, they saw I was really going to do it. They then said, like, well, would you help me publishing my book? Yeah. So I then went on to publish 24 other writers and other authors, and I got the other start. So you can't really call yourself a self published author when you publish 24 other authors as well. Also, it was a very small company. Yeah. But I also recognized, I was becoming more of a publisher and less of a writer. And that task was taking up too much of my time. Yeah, we did it for about two years. And then I didn't make a lot of money on that with them. Because I never wanted to be a publisher. I wanted to just help my friends. So I gave them royalty split of 10% and 90%. I took 10% they got 90. And so over that time, I was teaching them little by little how to do things. And when it finally became more mainstream in 2012, I gave everyone their rights back, push them out the door and help them to publish on their own, so that I did not have to have that weight on me anymore. But no big surprise was realizing that so many people were back then it was such a stigma. They were just so dug in and did not want to change at all.


Unknown Speaker  9:49  

And that's the thing that I I talked about this in I don't know maybe two podcasts, two podcasts ago, talking about how the writing actually Sitting down and doing the writing, if you're a creative person that ends up being the easy part. Yes, it's the, it's the whole other tail,


Unknown Speaker  10:09  

all the rest. And now I can understand why so many successful self published authors after a few, you know, however many years just decided, you know what, no more, I will take a lower royalty if I don't have to do all that day more. And they can negotiate them because of the readership they're bringing on a higher royalty base. And then it seems like okay, you know, I'm okay with this. Now


Unknown Speaker  10:31  

you do the work. Now, I'll rake in the cash and it's a ton of work. It really really is truly is.


Unknown Speaker  10:36  

No, I want you to traditionally published the work doesn't end, it's no more like that. You can magically sit back and rake in the cash. I mean, maybe if you're George RR Martin, you can. But for the rest of us, you're always gonna have to do some level of marketing and social media. And


Unknown Speaker  10:50  

I even read someplace where there are publishers that are that are mid to small houses, turning around and saying, Okay, well, we'll accept you. But you have to show X number of followers before we'll even


Unknown Speaker  11:03  

it's really a platform, they want to know that, where's your voice going? And we're the only ones carrying this load here. Or you also have an audience already.


Unknown Speaker  11:12  

Yeah. And to a certain extent, I see their point of view, it does show some buy in on the part of the author. But building that platform is such a lot of work.


Unknown Speaker  11:21  

Did I ever tell you about how when I originally started how I started sharing my work and how I built up my reader base? No. Okay, so back in 2009, when I was doing all this, I immediately started a Facebook business page. And that was in I started writing in February of 2009. And April 2009, I started my Facebook author page, and at the time, it was not like Facebook is now you could only like someone's comment, you could not reply. And if I wanted to send them a message to thank them for their comment, or to respond, my personal profile would come up and not my Facebook business page. So it was a mess trying to make sure you protected your right your your personal profile your personal life from your work life. But I also discovered there were ways I could share my work. They didn't have a lot of Facebook groups with interactions, yet, they still had a lot of basic stuff, where I could post a chapter as a note on my business profile. And that way, I could build a readership that way. So I was releasing the first 10 chapters of my book for free. I just posted them, you know, like every week or two weeks, and I build up an audience that way. And then when I got to the halfway mark, I realized like, Okay, this is terrific, I'm getting great free feedback on my book, while my agent is shopping my book, I'm actually making it a better story. And I'm able to build a readership base of this will be great when I finally get a real, you know, publisher nibbling on my book, and I'll have an actual platform, this will be exactly what they've asked for. And I realized, okay, I don't want to release the entire book in the public. So I then created Facebook groups, where I went to that, and I had maybe 250 to 300 people that greed, number one, they weren't going to share my work outside of the of the group, and they weren't gonna copy it and share it any other way. And that they would read along with me as I created the book. So I guess I am getting ahead of myself, because the agent came after I finished the first draft. So that's a little bit later. But I did by the time I had my agent, I got an agent, I think by like June or July that same year 2009. So by that point, I had 16 or 1700 followers already. Wow, a lot chapters I was releasing. And then I learned more about Facebook advertising and built things up that way. But I had a great solid base. And these people wound up helping me when I would enter online contests. These readers had already read my work and would go and vote for me in online contests and support me. So it was terrific. And it was kind of like the beginning of when everyone was just starting to get into Facebook. So it was a nice community.


Unknown Speaker  13:54  

Well, I think it's hard to get that engaged base going. I I really do think I think because today, looking at Facebook and Twitter and all of the different applications out there. You are literally fighting against gazillions of other people for a finite amount of people that are actually paying attention. It gets hard. Oddly enough, the podcasting has gotten way more traction than my Facebook posts ever do. Why? I think it's because podcasting is ends up being in kind of a smaller community. And I think there's not a lot of people out there with content, like this particular show that gets into the podcasting realm. So


Unknown Speaker  14:38  

I agree and I disagree because I do think that podcasts has a unique reach, and that the people who are listening to writing podcasts, there are a lot of writing podcasts when you really go out and look but I saw that was what I meant by a disagree because I think there's a lot out there to be able to really connect with people. But I think it's so much more personal Social media because you get a chance to really hear someone and interact with them and hear how they interact with others. So they're not just getting to know you and your writing, they're getting to know you as a person. And it draws people in. I have people when I went to panels on workshops, and obviously with COVID. Now, who knows when we're going to be having reader conventions and stuff again, but I would be on rear panels. And I'd be on there with some really famous writers where I just kind of felt like oh, my God, am I the filler? Like, how did I get on here? With all these really big name people? And yet, when I answered a question, and people heard me speak about what I was writing, and why I was writing what I did, they would come up to me later and say, I had never heard of you. But now I'm going to go out and buy your work, because they liked what I had to say, yeah, that was a nice way to connect. And that's what I think podcasts have become.


Unknown Speaker  15:44  

It's it's like what I said before, with the the rising tide and and authors, it's, it's great that we have these famous authors that we do panels with, because I've had similar experiences where you get the chance to actually sit around and talk with these people. Maybe you know, after the panels over with or whatever. And, and you get some really great feedback, some really great gouge from these people as you're talking to them.


Unknown Speaker  16:10  

I agree. So one writer give me great advice that I've kind of, it's terrific when you're starting out. They have to remember you build your readership base one reader at a time do that's what's so hard when you're in the beginning. It's like a hook takes forever. But when you get that in your mindsets, one reader at a time, little by little by little.


Unknown Speaker  16:30  

Yep. That's very, very true. So, okay, we've talked about the early days. But how did you settle on the genres in which you would end up writing in? Was there something that got you started at a younger age? Or was it just, I know you read quite extensively? Yeah,


Unknown Speaker  16:50  

I do. I read a lot of different genres. I think some of this stuff I don't read more is the nonfiction stuff, biographies, or self help books, or just, you know, anything. That's nonfiction, unless it's a craft book about writing. I'm not really going to read it. So when it comes to fiction, to me, I feel like it's all genre fiction, no matter how you want to label it. Oh, this is historical fiction. Yeah, that's still genre. So it's, I love genre fiction when it comes to things like horror, and fantasy, and high fantasy, and then contemporary fantasy, and romance and mystery, even suspense and thriller, all of it has something to offer. And I have found writers in every single genre that I really, really enjoy. And I also found when I became an you probably have noticed this as well, when you become obsessed with like a genre where, like we mentioned cozy mysteries, something that you write, and then you go from one Cozy Mystery to another one to another one another. And before you know it, let's just say suspense or thriller, you have read like 25 different Suspense Thriller writers, and you're just you're reading them all continuously months on end, and you just become so involved with it. Yep. Well, I recognize when I was reading the same genres over and over again, that there were things that were repetitive within the genres, I don't necessarily want to call them tropes, because obviously tropes can become the reason why a reader picks up a book because they really love that aspect of Oh, this is the hero's journey, I really connect with that. So I'm not gonna bash tropes, because that's never an issue. It was more about the aspects of their characters that I did not care for, because I saw it repeated again and again. So as an example, I loved reading urban fantasy with strong heroines, really strong kick ass female heroines. I think for me at the time, if I felt in my own life, that there were problems I had, or things I needed to that seemed insurmountable, I could escape into fiction. And I could read this kick ass heroine who just handled everything. What I hated was time and time again, I would see this great, strong woman who saved the world, solve the problem, you know, figured out the mystery, like, conquered whatever she needed to do, and screwed up in her romantic love life again, and again. And again. It was as if we were saying that even though she could make these incredible life and death decisions, she could not make a good decision when it came to one man or a woman in her life that she loved. And I thought why why do we have to see this again? And again? Why can't I see somebody who is in it is successful, healthy relationship, and still can save the world and battle the evil and, you know, figure out the mystery and solve the problem. Why can't she have a spouse or someone standing there with her? Why does it always have to be alone or whatever? Yeah, so that was what really prompted me with my first book was I wanted to write about a monogamous couple, who solved a crime who solved a problem who worked together. And in that sense, my first book was a single protagonist, because it was a one point of view. But afterwards, I recognized I enjoyed doing multiple points of view better, because I did not just have one single protagonist and one single antagonist in the story, I would have multiple so since life was more about multiple journeys that would come together. I wanted my stories to be Similar to have more points of view, so we saw different aspects of it. And I found myself bouncing it off of one and two or three and four, and in some cases, six different points of views, which was a challenge I hope to never do again.


Unknown Speaker  20:14  

Yeah, yeah. And it's, it's funny, you mentioned that I had watched a video not that long ago talking about the idea of buying I can't remember the name of there's, there's a YouTuber out there who's also an author. I've actually mentioned her on the show before, and I sometimes include her links, because she's, she's just wonderful. In her YouTube videos are short little segments. She talks about building characters that are like, so perfect, yet they have this one stereotypical flaw and how that makes you want to vomit. And that's absolutely true. You cannot have this, the super strong character, and then have this almost stereotypical flaw where you're like, Oh, I could have saw that coming.


Unknown Speaker  21:05  

Right, right. Like they do everything great. But oh, they're a racist, or they don't agree. And then they just, oh, they're misogynist. It's like,


Unknown Speaker  21:10  

come on, they can't be. They can't be perfect to the point of being unnatural. There has to be that something in there that makes them vulnerable, otherwise, they're not a very good character.


Unknown Speaker  21:22  

But quotes I love was somewhere along the line of like, don't write characters because characters become caricatures. Right? People write real people. Characters everyone loves but they're not caricatures. They're not fake.


Unknown Speaker  21:36  

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Was there was there a genre as a when you first started out, you're like, oh, man, I am going to be this type of writer. No,


Unknown Speaker  21:51  

I, I can tell you that I did tell myself, I'm not going to be that type of writer. And then I became that writer, where I, I, my visual books had a lot of steamy scenes in them. And it was because I love reading steamy scenes. I loved reading an adventure that was smart, that had intrigue that had death and violence, but also had erotic scenes in it. So that's what I wrote. And then it was difficult because I found some audiences, when they picked up a book that they expected, one thing could not handle that there was graphic sex in it. Although there were a lot of other people in my genre, you're doing that just not, you know, low names like me, people who were much higher. So I found that that was a bit of a difficulty when people were expecting that. So I got a lot of that, like, you should write romance because you can write sex. Oh, well, well, then I started writing romance. And I really wanted to gouge my eyes out with a spoon because it was incredibly difficult to write an entire book focused solely on the romance and the relationship building. I wanted to blow something up, I wanted to kill somebody, I wanted there to be an adventure. I felt like, Oh, my God, we got to go back to feelings again. Like it just I like to read books that have an adventure and a romance. But not always solely. Just the romance. Yeah, I want there to be more to it.


Unknown Speaker  23:03  

Yeah. I like the we were talking on the so I belong to the independent author support discussion on Facebook. And it's it's a group of writers and the the, the ticket in is you have to have at least one published book. Well, the the question came up the other day is, do you write romance, romantic scenes in your writing? And I had to give this question a lot of thought, because I do but I suggested happens. I don't get explicit about it. Because that's not what's moving my storyline along. That's okay. That


Unknown Speaker  23:38  

just means your action happens off the page.


Unknown Speaker  23:40  

Yeah, it happens on the books, and they have to be in there real people. So these things do happen to real people. So it's part of life,


Unknown Speaker  23:48  

right. And if you look at every really great book that you've loved, that has been something some type of blockbuster hit, there's romance, and every single one of them, there's relationships and every single one of them whether or not it is the main focus of the plot. Or a subplot is the difference between whether or not you're going to call it a romance. There are actual guidelines in romance Writers of America for how much romance has to be in the story for to be counted as a romance. If you're doing the sub genre of romantic suspense, they'll even tell you, like 85% needs to be the suspense 15% has to be related to romance, like they'll tell you percentage wise of how your story has to focus for to qualify for that genre, which is amazing. You know that you can really go with the seal like romantic adventure stories, which are really great, like military adventures, but they'll have romance in them too.


Unknown Speaker  24:36  

Yeah, that's that's interesting, because in the horror Writers Association, I think the general consensus is something horror related has to happen in it, but we don't really put a percentage on it. It's kind of like if you read horror, you know, it's horror,


Unknown Speaker  24:51  



Unknown Speaker  24:53  

And that umbrella of horror I'm I love to say that horror is really horror is really an umbrella. There's all kinds kinds of things that can exist underneath it.


Unknown Speaker  25:03  

I agree, one of my first writer friends that I met online at a website called writing calm, which was terrific for you to go and get feedback on your work. And I was really involved with the site for a while. And then I became close with the people afterwards that I connected well with. And I'm still friends with some of them. Now, years later, one of them, she became an editor, and I helped her start her editing business. But I'm sorry, I digress. My point here was getting people to read the work. One of my writer friends said to me, you know, we really write your writing hot horror. And I was like, Oh, that's a gentleman. I did not know that was a gentleman said, Oh, yeah, the violence you have in your books, that scary aspect, you're writing monsters? That's war, but because you also have sex in them? I'm going to call it hot war.


Unknown Speaker  25:47  

Absolutely, absolutely. I love to go to the sessions at the horror Writers Association annual meeting the stokercon. And we, we sit around and talk about these topics. And it's it's always just a ton of fun. But so Okay, let's, let's say you sit down, and CJ opens up her her laptop and says, Okay, I'm going to write a new book today. I want it to have this element. So walk us through kind of your organizational procedure. How do you make How do you make the magic happen?


Unknown Speaker  26:23  

You know, I've been famous for saying over and over again, that there's more than one way to skin a cat. And I really hate that saying, but you know, everyone understands it when you hear it. That the way I approach writing a story now is not the same way that I approach writing the story in the beginning, that just like anyone who's written more than two or three books can tell you, your process is going to change. And you're gonna find what works better for you on one book is not going to work so great on the next book, or what worked great on this book is, is going to be a backfire on the next. Like, it's so hard to nail yourself down to one thing, but I can tell you what, what's working for me now has worked for several books, where I'd say like I said, the process evolves. So currently, I would have an idea. And then that idea grows into a concept where I have to map out my concept that mapping out the concept is really where I'm bullet pointing things like what's going to happen, what what do I see happening? And then I recognize that, okay, I have a half a page of bullet points here, I need to expand on it. What other action can I do? So I start to piece together an order to my bullet point. It's like, Okay, well, this was a great idea. But this should happen, like midway through the book, and then Okay, well, now, I also need to build here. So that can happen later. So you start to move things around, maybe I'll start with a Word document, and I'll open it up, and I'll just start bullet points and then move them and then expand on them. And then before I know it, I'm mapping out my scenes, I start to map out my scenes, and then I map out my chapters, a lot of people, they'll just kind of assume like, Oh, well, a chapter is this or 2500 words, or this or that. Sometimes one scene can go 4000 words, you just don't know how you want to lay it out. But when you're laying out your chapters, you're at that point, you should be thinking about a reader. And you're thinking about how the reader is going to end on that chapter, if you want them or I would hope as every writer, your goal is that they never put down your book that they continue reading. Obviously, if we're writing like a 400 patients, or even a 300 page book, they can't obviously read that on one scene. But you want to make it hard for them to put that book down. Yes. So if you're thinking about what a hook is, you need a hook at the end of every chapter.


Unknown Speaker  28:31  

So let me let me just interrupt a couple of podcasts ago, more than a couple, I think I talked about the idea of you know how we have kind of the roller coaster sine wave that we use for developing a story. I said, every chapter is a little bit like that, except when you get to the bottom, you need to go back up again. Yeah, not to get your reader to go, Oh, my God, I need to keep reading.


Unknown Speaker  28:55  

Right? Sometimes it's as simple as you end that chapter in the beginning of the scene, or the middle of a scene or when something crucial has happened in the scene. So they have to turn the page to keep going. Yes, if they have to close the book in the middle of a chapter because they're tired, that's fine. But at least they did not close the book, when I made my my character go to sleep. And I ended the chapter when they went to bed


Unknown Speaker  29:13  

know that,


Unknown Speaker  29:14  

you know, that's one of those things like nope, nope. So after I've mapped all that out, and I have a pretty good idea of how my chapters are going to go, I start writing. So for me, I've talked to friends that have had incredible outlines where they're 50 pages long, and they're color coordinated all of that. That's not me, you complimented me before and saying I'm a great organizer, but sometimes things change, you know, you have to move it on the fly. And sometimes all my careful organization goes right out the window, I might wind up using when I said bullet points and then I break it down into a chapter. I might have three or four sentences for that chapter. And that's it. But that's enough to tell me what action is going to happen so that I can clearly see the big picture of my story. And I've also if I've been stuck We'll take those scenes, I'll write them all on note cards, and I'll put them on a big board and figure out like, is it flowing well, and then I'll do my timeline work out, like where my scenes are, what day of the week it is, or, you know, in my stories is day two, day three, day four, where we are with how the story's progressing. So that as I'm looking through the scenes, I recognize where my holes are, where something isn't going to work, or the action doesn't flow properly, or where I jumped too quickly, like, Yeah, sometimes you might have something where you need the action to occur now, but nothing's going on for two more days, because you have something that has to happen. So you'd have to be careful how you're working all that so you don't lose your reader. And then after I've kind of mapped it all out, I start writing, it can either be through dictation, or it can be by hand up at the computer. I'm not the type of person that's ever going to write longhand. That's just like, nope.


Unknown Speaker  30:45  

I have done that before. And it's actually kind of interesting. Get cram.


Unknown Speaker  30:48  

It's in like, yeah, my starts to hurt. I can't seem to write as fast as my story is going in my head. So I get frustrated. But I found dictation also has its drawbacks. Where I'm able to speak faster than the story can happen in my head. Yes. And then you start to have this quiet parts like, you know, Dragon Dictation is not judging you. It doesn't care that you have quiet parts, but you start to you know, fumble on your own.


Unknown Speaker  31:10  

Yeah, absolutely.


Unknown Speaker  31:12  

And then you go back and you revise and you edit, you revise. And it seems like a never ending cycle sometimes. Yeah. That's how I write.


Unknown Speaker  31:18  

So you actually we had talked about this? Before, you had mentioned to me that you were doing some reworking of your books. What brought this sort of what brought this question up was, I'm actually reworking my second novel right now. Because as you pointed out, you You almost set this question up for me very nicely. I, I've learned so much since then. So I want to rework that storyline. What is what drives your thinking process and the decision making process to start something like that? I don't think a lot of people, especially when they're new writers ever think to themselves? Oh, well, I may go back and rewrite novels. And it's pretty common.


Unknown Speaker  32:03  

Yeah, it is pretty common. I think every writer who has expanded over the years and learned more should always if they have an opportunity, if they have the rights to the story, think about going back and reworking a book, if they're not happy with it, if they are happy with it, leave it be for me. I had gone back and rewritten my books several times. And they are just really some of the new addition. Sometimes would be small things, or I would go into the scene, I would change dialogue, I would add more description, I would change how I wrote something because it read stilted it did not read with a flow. If I have, like we said we learned so much. I had writer friends that would recommend, have you tried listening to your story out loud, you know, have the computer read it to you. So when you're doing that, or when you're approaching a new way to listen to your story, you hear things that you didn't catch when you were originally writing it. So does that mean I should never fix it. So I went back and fix things whenever I found a problem with it. So I was used to the idea of I can fix my story because I have the rights to it. And I don't really give a crap, what someone else is going to tell me is right or wrong, because it's mine. If I want to change it, I will. So I did, I did go back and rewrite the books, the early books a couple of times. But when I was involved with my daughter's writing club in the high school, she had her story. She wrote three books in one world that I realized her story could be loosely connected to my world, that she had so many traits in it, even though that she didn't initially plan that and she'd never read my books that the way that she was approaching magic in her world. In her fantasy world, I recognized that I could very easily mesh into mine. So I asked her, would you like me to connect your story with mine when you really should books. And if you do that I can help you promote them together. But because she was writing something that was why a and I had explicit sex in my books, I made the decision to go back and to rewrite those books and to remove those sex scenes so that the action was more fluid and smooth, and it happened off the page. So if what I really did was I toned down the erotic aspects and remove the blatant sexuality in the book that was very prominent. And it was so that I could support her. And I could also hopefully reach a new reader base. And because I still had my romance series that had explicit sex in it, I had decided that I would just take the scenes I was removing, and I would put them on my website. And if people wanted to read them, they could. So I had readers who were initially very upset with me that I was going to do this and I got a lot of hate mail about it. And I thought you know, what are my books and you have your original story. I'm not going to write over it so that your Kindle will erase it and you have the hard copies. I'm going to do new ISP numbers. I'm going to change the name of the series. I'm going to make it so that it's okay to do what I'm doing and you won't lose what you have. So I thought I was making people happy that way and That was my reasoning for doing it was I wanted to reach a new audience and I wanted to support my daughter, if wound up backfiring, because she wound up not publishing her series. But that's another story.


Unknown Speaker  35:09  

Darn kids. And that's actually a really good point I, I mentioned, I've mentioned in more than a couple shows the importance of family support, it's critical to my success, I know that without my wife and my children's support, there's no way anything could possibly happen. So challenges with family.


Unknown Speaker  35:34  

Yeah, I did have challenges in the beginning. So we're talking about 11 years ago, which means my kids were, I can do math, six, and eight, when I started, and at six, and eight, which is why I chose a pen name was we have a very unique last name that maybe unique, not the right word, let's just say uncommon, last name. And that meant that if I was writing explicit sex, I can have any wacko in the world find out where I lived, because of my class, my uncommon last name. So um, my I sat down with my husband, and with the kids, and I didn't explain that I was writing about sex, they were too young. But I explained that for the safety of the family, I was going to write and pending, and they completely supported me. Then they also understood that I was writing as an escape from my medical problems, that for me, it was a way to do something with my time rather than dwell on what I couldn't change. If I couldn't change the diagnosis, and I had to live with them. If I just sat around the house and thought about them all the time, it would have driven me crazy. So my family supported me to say, like,


Unknown Speaker  36:40  

we know, you need to do something.


Unknown Speaker  36:42  

So they supported me to write my husband gave me I don't want to say an ultimatum. But it was definitely like it was it was a hard, it was tough love encouragement, where he said two years, you got two years to get published. And if you can't get published in two years, then you need to go back and get a real job. Now, neither of us had any idea when he made this, like suggestion that it was how hard it was. Because at that point, I did not know about what royalties were I didn't know what I earned. I didn't know what earning out the cost of your royalties


Unknown Speaker  37:13  

were I didn't know any of this stuff.


Unknown Speaker  37:13  

You didn't know what the whole deal that the harder part of the job really was. I didn't know for people


Unknown Speaker  37:19  

I had been writing for decades and still weren't published. Like I just felt like what, like, I didn't understand any of what I was getting myself into. So he also gave me a budget of $5,000 in two years to either get published or figure something out. Yeah. And that support made me learn as much as I could made me really go out there. And my husband supported me in the sense that when my kids were in school, I wrote, when they came home, I stopped. If I needed to work on something, and they went to bed early, because they were little, he understood, I wasn't going to sit around and watch television or read a book next to him, I was going to go and write. So he supported me to do that. If I had health problems, and at the time, I was getting multiple IVs, like twice a week is was difficult. I come home sick, and I'd lay on the couch and do nothing. And then I'd get up and I think like should I write and he'd encourage me to go and do it. Yeah, he urged me to work with agents. He encouraged me all along. And then when it became public, where I was talking to my friends about what I was writing when I was doing, and I was surprised at how dismissive people were when they knew that I was writing something had sex in it. I immediately as if like, oh, you're writing porn? I was like, What? Obviously you haven't written read any porn. Because if you had you know, I, that's not what I was writing. And my husband just kind of brushed it all off, didn't care. Like, what do you give a crap with those people think if this is what you want to write, and you're having a good time with it, go for all the matters what else? And he was also the one who encouraged me to write romance because he was like, well, the sex is selling really good one. Sure. But it was it was hard. It was really difficult when I felt like I was snubbed by places in the community when I tried to donate my time, or donate what I was doing. And then I would have, I guess, well meaning parents who would come out and say you do know what she writes. Right? Like she writes sex. And I thought, like, are you all unaware of how you got children? Because I don't you know, yes, natural. I'm not writing. I'm not writing like titillating rape stories. And I'm not writing like horrible. Like, I'm not writing bad stuff. I'm writing about love.


Unknown Speaker  39:23  

It's like you do know the stork didn't show up and deliver the babies. Right? Something had to happen.


Unknown Speaker  39:28  

Yeah, I don't know. Maybe they just make sure it was some type of skinemax you know, like, loosely translated skinemax like, script I was doing I don't know. So that was a challenge trying to deal with all of it. And I'd have to say all along my my family supported me, my kids when when I hit the New York Times, I think they were more excited than I was. I was kind of in shock like, are you sure that that really happened? No with and then I kind of joked for a while because I did hit the very like last number on the book list. I was The last one I was I was number 20. And and my kids were like, Mom, who cares? You hit it, you hit that no one can take that from you.