Tuesday, December 13

CJ Clark Visits The WordWranglers!

Welcome to Wordwranglers, Cj!  You and I met some time ago on a writer’s loop, and we were crit partners for a while and I had the pleasure of reading Wyoming Dreamer, your first book.  So here are my questions for you. 
      Both Wyoming Dreamer and Marry Me Under the Mistletoe are set in the west, obviously you have a special affinity for the this part of the world.  What draws you here?

My original pull came from reading westerns and western romances. A dastardly outlaw or a handsome, rugged cowboy always get my attention. More realistically, I love the mountains, the vistas, the wide open spaces and the wildlife. Consciously or unconsciously, I think westerners toil harder and I like that struggle. I also have a secret yen to own a ranch someday.

     You have won awards for your poetry.  Do you consider yourself a poetic fiction writer?

Not at all. When I think poetry+fiction, I think of literary works. That’s not me. I see myself as a genre writer—mainstream or romance.

You chose to self publish, rather than go the tradition route.  Do you have any sage advice for those considering the same?

As you know the battle between self pubbing and going traditional still rages. For myself, at my age, I didn’t have five to ten years or more to do the rounds of editors and wait to
be “taken on”. Advice-wise: If you have the time and desire to learn the parts of a book and how they are put together, the hunt for cover art, choosing the self publishing medium for you (Lulu, CreateSpace, etc.) and managing the requirements (converting to pdf’s and covers have to be a certain size, so many pixels, etc) then do so. You’ll also need the money to buy and distribute your book(s), along with the contacts and resources to promote/market/distribute your book(s). It can be a long, slow road, so consider your choices wisely.

I absolutely love your covers.  What was the process like choosing them?

In a word, tedious. Hours and hours were spent searching out stock photos on the Internet. Trying to come up with something appropriate to the title is not always easy. It is also challenging because images cannot be superimposed as you often see on covers from the big publishing houses. Also, the photo has to be purchased in order to get it without a watermark. Then you have to be sure you have the right size, right amount of pixels, etc. to download it. For Wyoming Dreamer I had to get permission from the photographer to use the image.

What was the hardest part of writing these two books?  The easiest?

Although I lived in Wyoming for five years, I was in the city. My only ranch experience was one cold, snowy night, around midnight, when an acquaintance called my husband and I to help (more like witness) a calf pulling. Maybe it was my maternal side, but I think I fell in love with ranching at that moment. The hardest part of writing Wyoming Dreamer was getting all the facets of ranching correct. Easiest? Many of the elements in the heroine’s life were my past experiences. For Mistletoe, it was the setting. Never having been to Steamboat Springs, CO, I hope I didn’t botch it up too badly. Easiest?
The humorous parts.

 How long does it take you to write a book, for idea to finished product?

Wyoming Dreamer was an on-again-off-again project. Collectively, it probably took about a year, year and a half. Mistletoe took a year start to finish. A lot of time is spent wading through research.

What has your journey taught you about yourself?

That I can do it. That although I’m not a big name author (yet) I can write a damn good story.

What advice would you give a beginner, just starting out?

Read what you want to write. Study the craft/elements of writing. Write, write, and write some more. Write what you want to write even if it doesn’t fit a niche. And never give up.

Where can we find your books?

Both books are available at www.Amazon.com, www.CreateSpace.com, and just recently were put into Kindle and Nook versions.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a third novel about a young girl with dysfunctional parents that disapprove of her dating. They send her away to a catholic school, but she can’t forget her sweetheart. It turns out the school is actually a nunnery with lots of dark secrets.

She escapes only to be caught in the clutches of prostitution until the day she finds herself face to face with her sweetheart again.

I have a mystery roiling around my brain, but I have to acquaint myself with that genre before I pursue writing that book.
And I have a couple of non-fiction book ideas I’m toying with.

CJ lives in the foothills of White Horse Mountain in the Arkansas Ozarks where she has often been dubbed “The Cat Lady” because of her affinity for adopting strays. When she hasn’t got her nose in a book, she likes to take long walks, cooks, or enjoys the companionship of a Siberian Husky and German Shepherd Mix while her nine cats are sequestered in the bedrooms.
Excerpt from Marry Me Under the Mistletoe:
 By the time they arrived back at the Lodge it was after 10 p.m. Candace felt very mellow in spite of only one glass of wine. After such a long spell of non-dating, tonight she felt like Cinderella. And now the ball was over, but her sexually bankrupt body didn’t know that. Her hormones were jumping all over the place with Trav’s attentiveness.
They sat in the lobby near the fireplace, Candy not wanting the night to end.  It had been a fluke of fate that someone checked out earlier in the day leaving a room vacant. Candy had snatched it up the minute she’d returned from Steamboat. Now, she pondered whether to invite Travis up to her room.
She fought her thoughts for a few seconds. Was it too soon? Would he think her a hussy? Her new red nightie floating through her thoughts she decided she couldn’t waste another minute. She took his hand and stood, then led him over to the glass elevator.
                “Would you like to come up to my room for a while?”
                “You have a room?”
Candy wondered why he was so surprised. He was the one who’d made it possible, hadn’t he? Wasn’t that what his note earlier that day meant?
“Of course, silly.”
He looked into her eyes, gently clasped her hand in his, raised it to his mouth and kissed it. “Not tonight,” he whispered.
                The thrill of his chivalrous kiss singed her fingertips while his words tinged the mounting hope she’d held. She nodded slightly. No red negligee. No seduction. Did that mean he hadn’t had a good time? Was this a one night deal? Wasn’t he interested in sex? Or was his “Not tonight” a teaser for some other night?


  1. Well this excerpt was a great teaser for me. I'll be checking the rest out.

  2. Awesome excerpt. Intriguing idea for next story.
    I also would like to write a mystery one day.

  3. Hi, CJ. Best of luck with your books.

  4. Great interview!! Nice excerpt, CJ...

  5. Enjoyed the excerpt! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on self-publishing. I have many of the same concerns with taking the long road to trad publishing. It was good to hear another voice taking the plunge.

  6. Loved the interview and the excerpt. I identify with the comment about having started later and not having five or ten years to be published.

  7. Loved this line: The thrill of his chivalrous kiss singed her fingertips...

    Thank you for sharing your experience going the self-pub route. Best wishes on your success.

  8. LOVE the Mistletoe cover! Beautiful job.

  9. Loved the excerpt.
    D'Ann, and CJ, what an excellent interview.
    I'm leaning toward self publishing myself. I'm excited and scared at the same time.

  10. Wonderful interview! I enjoyed the excerpt too! Great advice and would love to read your books :)

  11. An excellent interview. I have much in common with you, CJ. As an older writer, I study with interest self-publishing but not being tech savvy, I haven't gone that route as yet. Wishing you every success.

    Jacqueline Seewald,
    The Truth Sleuth
    The Inferno Collection
    The Drowning Pool
    Tea Leaves and Tarot Cards

  12. Sorry I'm late! I started working yesterday and with Christmas around the corner, need I say more.
    CJ your excerpt was great! and De'Ann the interview awesome.
    Way to go!

  13. Wonderful interview. Your covers are really nice.

  14. Excellent Interview ladies! CJ I love your book covers and LOVED your excerpt. And what you have in the works sounds like it'll be a lot of research, but well worth it.

    Thanks also for sharing your thoughts about self publishing! Always like to learn more to have options :)

  15. Great interview! The new book you're working on sounds fascinating.

  16. Thanks for kind words ladies. I wish you all success in your endeavors. And D'Ann, thank you for letting me be your guest today. It was great fun and couldn't have come at a better time.

    And ladies, if you go to my blog
    www.ripplesinastream.blogspot.com and leave a comment under the Nov 30 post about mistletoe, you may be elgible to win a copy of Marry Me Under the Mistletoe!

    Merry Christmas!

  17. Great interview and loved the excerpt.

    I also write Westerns even though I live in PA for many of the same reasons.

  18. Hi CJ,

    Loved the excerpt! Good luck with your two books, as well as this third one you're about to add to your collection!

    May 2012 be good to you!

  19. Thanks, Cj, for coming by today! Thanks all, for dropping in!

  20. Under the Mistletoe cover is gorgeous! I love it!