Author Spotlight: C.M. McCoy

Name: C.M. McCoy 

Author of: EERIE

From: Alaska

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?  It was a “descriptive paragraph” assignment from the 5th grade. My teacher, Mrs. Brady, was so excited about my stinky hamster paragraph, she made me read it aloud to the 3 other 5th grade classes. I was mortified, dead scared, and actually vomited. Worst reward ever.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? It was after I’d retired from the Air Force and after I’d retired from engineering. I’d written a memoir and signed with a literary agent. After that, I caught the fiction bug, and the rest is mystery. Writing is a funny profession in that one never stops pursuing it. The market is ever changing; agents and editors come and go, and one misstep on social media can rally the review trolls–effectively torpedoing your paycheck. Sometimes it feels more like the pot at the end of the rainbow than it does a career.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? There have been many who’ve been the proverbial lighthouse in the channel. Too many to name really, but agent Michelle Johnson tops my list of advisers/supporters during my journey to publication. She was extremely generous with her time and wisdom, and I’m forever grateful for her unwavering support. In addition, I have been blessed with the world’s best critique partners, who helped me hone my craft and who helped me shape up the structure of what would be my debut novel. Quite honestly, after paying thousands for professional editors who offered little to nothing in the way of actual editing suggestions, I found critique partners were far more adept at recognizing and suggesting edits for structural shortcomings, character arcs, plot holes, and craft mistakes. Sarah Adair, an unpublished author who shies away from social media, was especially helpful. I found her through Maggie Stiefvater’s Critique Partner Match-up several years ago.

Do you exclusively write paranormal or have you written in other genres? I also write YA and Adult thriller, speculative, and Picture Books. I’ve dreamed of writing a contemporary, but something urgent and usually monstrous seems to always pop up on those opening pages. I’m sure there’s something psychologically avoidy (that’s totally a thing) is happening there, but I’ve never dug deep enough into my psyche to figure it out.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? Good lord, it’s hard to find quiet time between mom-ing and wife-ing and agent-ing. I love my family to pieces, and I’m acutely aware of one thing: when I’m on my deathbed, I’ll never regret “missing out  on writing time,” but I’ll sure as hell want more play time with my husband, my kindergartener, my sister, my mom and dad, etc. I’ve had enough close calls to know what’s truly important in life. And so I sneak writing time in when everyone’s asleep. Getting up at 0330 helps. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? First drafts–this varies from 2 weeks to 7 months for me. Revisions continue until I perform the “good enough” nod. My husband, who piloted the Space Shuttle back in 2006 and whose mission rewired the Space Station, has this saying he picked up from one of his commanders at NASA: “better” is the enemy of “good enough.” For me, here on Earth, it means to mind your resources–an author’s time and energy are finite quantities, and spending them on an endless pursuit to make one MS “better” (which is a moving target) means the next MS never gets written. Recognizing when a MS has reached “good enough,” even if it’s “good enough for now” means moving forward. Getting stuck in the “it needs to be better” loop can stall a writer’s career. Some MS’s won’t sell (for now) no matter how many revisions an author makes, and it’s okay to put that MS in a drawer and call it good enough for now.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? Most of my preparation involves daydreaming. I have to know my main character through and through before I begin a draft. I may scribble out snippets of dialogue or a scene here and there, but most of my prep stays in my head. As for research, I find and interrogate people who share an experience or hobby or career or personality trait that one of my characters shares. I also research maps, chemistry, medicine, murder, mental health, engines, thermodynamics, string theory, bacterial growth rates, etc…you know, the usual.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Nope. 😀

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I spent 7 days canoeing through the no-kidding Alaska bush. Out of cell phone coverage, far from roads and people, and on a deadline to reach to a checkpoint near the Yukon river so that I didn’t miss my scheduled bush-plane pick-up. It was refreshing and terrifying at once, and it truly helped me shape the setting of EERIE and of my YA thriller, both of which are set in part in the Alaska bush.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? I usually find inspiration from staring at the back of my eyelids after an exciting day. I can say that I remember an acute moment of illogical tree fear while camping one winter night, and that may have fed into EERIE’s carnivorous tree problem…

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? I’m a mood reader who switches between nonfiction and fiction of most genres. I rarely get into a literary phase, and high fantasy isn’t my jam, but for the most part, I’ll read anything that tickles my neurons.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Oh yes. *evil grin*

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes to both. Some characters are a mash-up of different friends, and some are inspired by chance encounters with complete strangers.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater. I absolutely adore that book.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. A BEDTIME STORY by LC Moon. This was a steamy Beauty and the Beast retelling by an indie author who, sadly, hasn’t published the sequel. I’m still hoping though…

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? No, but I do have a Google news alert set up, which sends me the strangest emails. For example, just a couple weeks ago, I learned a very beautiful actress would portray a fictional me in an upcoming film starring Natalie Portman.  *shrugs*

As a writer, what animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? Tough choice. I’d say a snow ember. Or a snarling Yeti. Tough choice…

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Am I constantly answering questions that aren’t asked? Yes. Yes I am. Which is not as much a struggle as it is an annoyance. I should be more focused. I should take my own advice.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Don’t quit. (that’s 2 words)

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t quit. Many authors have such an unfulfilling and even discouraging experience after their first book publishes, that they stop writing altogether. Don’t quit.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I mentor. In 2017, I mentored an author in #PitchWars, and prior to that, I’ve mentored in contests like #NoQS and Query Kombat. I sneak into support groups and offer encouragement whenever I can. I lead workshops at schools and online. I’m still a work in progress myself, and I appreciate the reciprocation in this wonderful community. Now that I’m a literary agent and building my list, I try to be as specific and encouraging in my feedback as I can. I hate rejection. It stinks. Having received over 300 rejections for my own work before finding an agent, I can appreciate the sting I now send out, and I’m always thinking of the person on the other end and hoping they persevere in their journey to publication. <3

Would you like to know more about C.M. McCoy?

Eerie

The sensational teen paranormal romance featured in PEOPLE Magazine and on INSIDE EDITION! 

Hailey Hartley has just enrolled in the world’s premier supernatural university. It’s a school she’s never heard of, located in a town called The Middle of Nowhere, and run by a creature that’s not supposed to exist. But at least she got a scholarship…

Hailey’s dreams have always been, well…vivid. As in monsters from her nightmares follow her into her waking life vivid. When her big sister goes missing, eighteen-year-old Hailey finds only one place offers her answers–a paranormal university in Alaska. There, she studies the science of the supernatural and must learn to live with a roommate from Hell, survive her otherworldly classes, and hope the only creature who can save her from an evil monster doesn’t decide to kill her himself.

Get Eerie on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

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