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 Sarah Adair, an unpublished author who shies away from social media, was especially helpful.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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Book Release: Fading by Cindy Cipriano

Fading
Cindy Cipriano
(The Fading Series, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 10th 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

Leath Elliott is a seventeen-year-old competitive shooter living with her mother in Woodvine, North Carolina. Leath’s father was killed in a tragic accident when she was fourteen, and her friend Victor Santana has been there for her every step of the way since. But the friendship starts to change when Victor develops deeper feelings for her. If that wasn’t complicated enough, newcomer James Turner, an emancipated minor with a dark past, wanders into her sights. Leath is captivated by him and wonders if he might be the boy of her dreams—literally.

Fading is the first book in an exciting new fantasy romance series by award-winning author Cindy Cipriano.

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GUEST POST BY CINDY CIPRIANO

Thanks for hosting me today. I’m thrilled to be here to talk about my new paranormal romance, Fading, and pass on some tips I’ve learned in my journey as an author. First, a little about Fading, which is the first book in The Fading Series.

Fading

Seventeen-year-old, Leath Elliott lives with her mother in the microscopic town of Woodvine, North Carolina. Leath’s father was killed in a tragic accident when she was fourteen, and her friend Victor Santana has been there for her every step of the way since. But the friendship starts to change when Victor develops deeper feelings for Leath. If that wasn’t complicated enough, newcomer James Turner, an emancipated minor with a dark past, wanders into her sights. Leath is captivated by him and wonders if he might be the boy of her dreams—literally.

Fading – Insider Info (or as much as I can tell you)

I often think of Fading as the VLJ story. As in Victor-Leath-James.

Being in love is wonderful, heartwarming, and can leave you breathless. But, sometimes, it is so confusing! If you have ever loved two people at the same time, you can relate to what Leath is going through in Fading. Although some readers have expressed their choice (Victor or James), many feel the way the same way Leath does; she loves them both.

As Leath soon learns, decisions of the heart are not always clear or easy to make. Thank goodness, she has best-friend, Anamae, to help her navigate the waters. On second thought, the word, “help,” might be a bit of a stretch

Feeling Extra? Readers are often surprised to learn that one of the settings in Fading is a real place. Judaculla Rock is a 2,000-3,000 year-old petroglyph located in western North Carolina. Several legends surround the origin of the rock as well as the images that are carved into its surface. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Judaculla Rock a few times and have really enjoyed incorporating this setting into Fading.

Which brings me to writing.

I’m often asked if I have any tips for new writers. The best suggestion I have is to join a critique group.

Now.

No, wait. Join one yesterday.

Learning how to give and receive thoughtful criticism will make your writing stronger. Writing is often an isolated endeavor. Being a part of a critique group helps foster a sense of community. It’s great having someone to turn to when you need to bounce ideas around. And, having a group discussion about your writing will help you see your story from a different perspective.

I’m also asked about the editing process. I’ll leave you with my best tip for editing.

Read your entire manuscript aloud. That really helps you notice mistakes and helps you smooth out the rough spots. If necessary, I suggest you record yourself as you read aloud the more difficult sections.

–Cindy Cipriano
–Please visit www.cindycipriano.com to learn more about Fading.

 

Author Bio:

Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son and their 27 pets.

Not really.

Just three dogs who think they are children and three cats who think they are raccoons. It only seems as if they make 27. When Cindy isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and the avoidance of cooking.

Cindy’s first novel, The Circle, Book One of The Sidhe won the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Silver Award for Pre-Teen Fiction – Fantasy. Other titles in the series include The Choice, Book Two of The Sidhe (2015) and The Lost, Book Three of The Sidhe (2017). This seven-book series is published by Odyssey Books.

Miller’s Island Mysteries #1 The Case of the Toxic River (2017) is the first in her eleven-book science mystery series (Vulpine Press). #2 The Case of the Catalyst will release in 2018.

Look for Fading, the first in her young adult series, in April 2018. (Clean Teen Publishing). Fading is the tale of first loves and the consequence of dreaming up Mr. Right.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Author Spotlight: Sharonlee Holder

Name: Sharonlee Holder

Author of: Resurgence; Renegade (coming in 28 May 2018; Changing Tides Publishing)

From: Johannesburg, South Africa

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

It was so long ago that I think it involved a stone tablet, hammer and chisel. LOL. I do, however, remember writing a short story for my girls when they were little entitled ‘Betty & Bumper Go Adventuring’. I printed it out, drew pictures for it and stapled its ‘spine’ together. I think one of the girls may still have it somewhere.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I have always written for my own entertainment and spent the last ten years writing characters and telling their stories with others in various collaborative roleplaying communities themed around the world of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern book series. I also participated in NaNo in both 2012 and 2014. It wasn’t until the April Camp Nano in 2016 (during which the first 50k words of Resurgence were written) that I began to dream about the idea of turning my storytelling passion into a profession.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

My family and a couple of close friends. I know, that sounds so cliched. But were it not for their encouragement and support, I would never have had the courage to submit Resurgence in the first place. I must give my mom extra kudos for the hours and hours that she patiently listened to me blathering on about my characters like they were real people. She is still my number one sounding board when I need to brainstorm a plot twist or when I’m having a crisis of word flow.

Do you exclusively write paranormal romance or have you written in other genres?

I have a half-finished contemporary MC romance that is a stand-alone that I hope to complete this year and submit for consideration. NaNo 2012 I started but never completed a high fantasy novel, but even that has romance woven into it 😉

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

As an adult with ADD, maintaining any kind of balance and/or focus can be a challenge at times. This is where my passion for music comes in and helps to centre me during writing sessions. I am also truly grateful to be able to say that writing is my work. While I also design patterns for crochet toys and sell those through my Etsy shop on the side, I am determined to turn my writing passion into a sustainable career. Scary, nerve-wracking but altogether exciting too!

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

Resurgence took me four months to write, Renegade, five months – longer if you count the break I took when I began writing the MC Contemp Romance I have yet to finish. I’m hoping to get book 3 out in four and a half months.

 

As for revisions, I am a lineal writer that starts at Chapter 1 and writes straight through to The End, editing as I go. While this approach does to tend to slow me down so far, it has also served to lessen the need for hefty revisions. I am also a total pantster. While I may know the overall plot and how the book will end, my approach is very definitely that of discovery writing. My little ADD brain would get bored and disengage if it knew too much in advance 😉

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

Since I’m a pantster and revel in discovery writing, I tend to research as I go. Again, it does make for a bit of a stop-start approach but so far, it’s worked for me. That is, if you discount falling down rabbit holes that began with Googling: How long does it take to dig a grave by hand? And somehow ends with: Watching a Facebook video of someone making a three flavour swiss roll. I can’t even claim that I then went on to make said swiss roll for the family. LOL.

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

I feel like I should plead the fifth here. LOL. Coffee. There must always be coffee! Coffee and a short one-minute track from the band Thousand Foot Krutch called The Introduction that I listen to on my headphones at the start of each writing session. Not sure if it’s because I’m trying to invoke my muse, or it simply helps to clear the cobwebs from my head, but it seems to get me into the space I need to be in. The lyrics:

Welcome. You have activated all systems. Deactivation is not an option. You must find the truth. Remember, not everything is what it seems. If you don’t stand for something, you might fall for anything. The end is where we begin.

The link: https://youtu.be/azkL37-ipKU

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 have! Aside from visiting the local graveyard where Ross, Apollo, Ares and Keanu have their little showdown in Resurgence, my #HEA surprised me with a trip to Underberg in the Drakensberg mountains to the exact location that has inspired the compound that Eros and the resistance take over at the end of Resurgence. It was amazing! There is an old abandoned hospital that inspired the one in Renegade (book 2) that’s just down the road from where I live. However, since it’s listed as one of the top ten most haunted places in South Africa I am way too chicken to check it out myself 😉 There I cheated and relied heavily on Youtube videos taken inside the dilapidated buildings by paranormal investigators and Google Earth for a 3D external view. I’ll be sharing some of those links on my blog and Facebook in the weeks leading up to Renegade’s release.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

With my #HEA being a patched member of the Hell Razors bike club, inspiration for my unfinished contemporary MC romance is taken directly from my and his involvement in the biker club life. The inspiration for Blood of The Custodians grew from a series of What Ifs after watching the delicious Henry Cavill in the 2011 movie, Immortals – What if the gods of Greek and Roman times still lived among us? What would they look like? What would their politics be? How would they integrate with us and what have they been up to for the past one thousand years?

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

Paranormal romance all the way with a brief tour here and there through high or urban fantasy as well as historical fiction as written by the incredible Ken Follet. When it comes to PNR, I will admit to having a mega fangirl crush on JR Ward, author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and would probably swoon dead away if ever I got to meet her. Ward writes PNR and vampires like no one I’ve ever read before – Edgy, fast-paced, steal-your-breath away, melt-your-bones stuff. Karen Marie Moning, author of the Fever series is a close second – Jericho Barrons is delicious! When it comes to contemporary romance, Lori Foster’s Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor is my all-time favourite series from her so far. In this series, Foster writes the perfect blend of hot alpha males working as white hat mercenaries with steamy romance all while dealing with the grim reality of the modern-day slave trade.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Haha. Yes. Yes, I do 😉 There is a scene in Resurgence where Antara encounters Tryston (The Dark Hunter) for the first time that was inspired by a recurring nightmare I used to have as a teenager living at the coast. In Renegade, there is a scene set in Chicago that briefly touches on a strange little house squished between two modern hotels. Back in March of 2013, during a trip to the States, I stood outside in the middle of a snowstorm opposite the real-life inspiration and told my #HEA that one day, I would write a book and put that little double-storey house in it. Total squee moment when finally, I got to do just that! I only wish I could have written more about it.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Oh, this could get me into trouble. LOL. One or two of my characters are certainly drawn from real-life inspiration. For instance, Hailey, Antara’s BFF, is a composite of the close friend of one of my daughters and a friend of mine from the Hell Razors all wrapped up in the bounce and charm of a Jack Russell 😉 The real-life sources of Hailey’s inspiration are aware of this. Except the Jack Russell who was more interested in chasing imaginary squirrels than hearing how she had inspired a character.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield. I received the first book as a gift from a dear friend back in 2011 and loved reading about Lysandra, a Spartan warrior priestess who fights her way from shipwrecked slave to fearsome victor in the gladiatorial arena facing many deadly foes and circumstances along the way.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Wheels Up (Out of Uniform) by Annabeth Albert. A m/m military romance I thoroughly enjoyed Annabeth’s exploration of the psychology and dangers involved when a pair of new lovers suddenly find themselves thrust into the forbidden territory of a relationship between a commanding officer and enlisted man due to an unforseen transfer. What an emotional rollercoaster! And…hot, hot, hot!

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Haha. Haven’t we all? My results are pretty boring though. It’s all book/author stuff and the various crochet and cross stitch patterns I’ve designed for magazines or that I sell on my Etsy shop.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

Given how dragon obsessed I am, that would have to be it 🙂

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Putting down more words in a day that by the end of it, will survive my daily edits. My greatest aspiration is to be able to achieve a steady flow of between 3,000 and 4,000 words a day that make it passed edits.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Read. Read, read, read! And I don’t just mean novels in the genre you want to write in but everything about the craft of writing and publishing that you can get your hands on! Sign up for newsletters that offer free advice, read articles by other authors, editors and publishers. Follow published authors, editors, agents and publishers on social media as they not only have sage advice to give but will often share articles on all things related to the craft of writing. Things such as the difference between ‘showing’ and ‘telling’, character growth, plot development, query letters, writing a synopsis etc. Angela Ackerman on twitter is a brilliant place to start. She’s always sharing amazing tips and hints.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Social media! That’s two. #mybad. Seriously though, get on social media, follow other authors, book reviewers, bloggers, like their posts, share their stuff, retweet. Reach out. ENGAGE! It’s not just about marketing your book. You need to network and build relationships too.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

While I’m not as good about blogging as I should be, I do like to reach out one-on-one and share what I’ve learned in terms of what’s worked for me and what hasn’t, what info is out there for the taking and where to find it. I know how lonely and overwhelming the journey can be and how much just even the smallest bit of encouragement can help.

Where can people find more about you?

 

 

BLOOD OF THE CUSTODIANS 

RESURGENCE – Book one

It’s been a thousand years since the Fates destroyed Olympus, forcing the gods into exile among the humans. Now, led by Eros, the sons and daughters of the Olympians are preparing for war. They are determined to win their freedom, but the Fates will do anything to keep the status quo. A prophesied weapon—said to be able to destroy the Fates—is sought by both sides.  Eros and the resistance want to use it to win their freedom, while the Fates race to find the weapon first and destroy it.

 

Antara, a hybrid of human and Custodial descent, comes into her ancestral powers as the very Tracker Eros needs to find the weapon. Kidnapped, held hostage and forced to confront the hidden truth about her own heritage, Antara is drawn deeper and deeper into a world she never knew existed. Things would be a lot simpler if she could just hate Eros for bringing her here; if his fate weren’t now bound to her own—and if, despite everything, she didn’t already find herself falling in love with him…

 

Set in modern day urban South Africa, Resurgence is a fast-paced paranormal romance featuring rich, dynamic characters centered on a smoldering love story and timeless themes.

 

One Liner: Love has the power to move gods.

 

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RENEGADE – Book two

In the ongoing war between the Fates and the resistance, Colin Murphy, bastard son of Hades finds himself caught between his loyalty to Eros and a past intent on destroying him.

Pursued by Persephone’s bounty hunters with a pissed-off daemon to contend with, there is one thing that Murphy knows for sure – Hailey, the human he now shares his mind and body with, is the innocent in all of it. She is a firefly flickering in the darkness of his black existence and he will do anything to protect her light.

Groomed to be a socialite with a conscience and with her future mapped out for her, nothing could have prepared Hailey for the rude ending to life as she knew it. Or, for that matter, the impact of living in such close, intimate confines with a forsaken son of hell. He’s powerful, dangerous and her only hope of escaping the dark forces after her.

Boundaries will be tested, loyalties questioned, and hearts pushed to the limits in this action-packed paranormal romance that continues the epic Blood of the Custodians saga by Sharonlee Holder.

 

One Liner: He’ll risk his heart to save her soul.

 

PRE-ORDER LINKS:

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