Okay, Char, take it away. Tell us a little bit about yourself
Char: I’m a native New Yorker who has lived all over the place, thanks to my (retired) Air Force hubby, Don. Our family is scattered everywhere, including Alaska, where we lived for sixteen years before heading east. Don and I now live on a sixty-acre farm, twenty miles from where I was raised, in Upstate NY. I have been writing for about ten years but it was only within the last five years or so that I began to take it seriously, and actively write for publication. I joined RWA which was a huge help, attended my first national conference and frayed my nerves, pitching my manuscript. The experience at National was life-altering! I published that manuscript in November, 2011, and am currently working on my second novel.
Callie: What a great beginning to what will surely be a remarkable career. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Char: I gather ideas from everything and anything. Sometimes the simplest things will set me off. A song title, a dream or nightmare, even a walk outside can get me motivated. There’s no specific circumstance that remains constant. One thing I don’t do is listen to music when I write. I know a lot of writers do, but music distracts me too much. I find myself singing along, and soon my fingers have left the keys completely. And since I don’t really enjoy instrumental tunes, it’s better if I leave my background quiet. That way I’m not immersed in Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin when I should be thick as thieves with my H/H. J
Callie: Good point. Sometimes the music will soothe me and sometimes makes me want to get up and dance, lol. What does your family think of your writing?
Char: My family is amazingly supportive and the best cheerleaders in the world. Hubby Don was the one who talked me into writing in the first place, and gently but firmly moved me along, from writing poetry to trying my hand at short stories, and eventually plunging into that first novel. He talked me into joining RWA and convinced me we had enough funds for me to attend National. My daughter, Sue Ann, and her hubby, John, have been cheering me on and helping with promotion. I couldn’t ask for more!
Callie: A supportive family can make all the difference. We all need cheerleaders, and it’s great when they’re our family! What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Char: Actually, I learned what I write best. Many authors write what they read. I more or less do—now—but prior to trying my hand at writing, I read nothing but horror, science fiction and the occasional Nora Roberts book. J Yet when I first set my fingers to the keyboard, out came romance instead of horror. Imagine my surprise. I’ve learned a great deal about myself all along the process, and what I have learned is that even when I yearn to be scared, I want to be romanced, too. I’ve also learned to entertain instead of overwhelm, and tell a story instead of lecture or use enormous, complicated words that could be potentially irritating. Reader A doesn’t need me to dazzle her/him with my knowledge of obscurely intellectual vocabulary, but he/she does deserve to be entertained. I figure if they wanted to be impressed in that manner, they’d read an encyclopedia, or maybe Silas Marner.
Callie: I love that! We are here to entertain, which is why I often say rules for writing are good, and you need to turn out a professional manuscript, but in the end it’s the story that keeps the reader reading, and looking for other books by that author. What are you working on now?
Char: I’ve always wanted to write a book set in Alaska, and that’s what I’m doing. I am very familiar with Interior Alaska since I lived in Fairbanks for many years. But I wanted to put this story in a more remote region of Alaska, so I chose the very sparsely populated southwestern region, not too far from Bethel (if you’d like, you can follow along on an Alaska map!). So much of the area is unspoiled and wild and you can only get there by plane. There are roads but they don’t go anywhere and they’re usually cut off by large bodies of icy water. My heroine is on the run, and of course there’s a villain. And I’d better stop now, before I spoil you!
Callie: Okay, folks, since Char and I have been swapping chapters for critiques, I can tell you her new book is fascinating. I can’t wait for it to come out. Do you love or hate writing sex scenes?
Char: Yes. J Actually it’s kind of a love/hate thing. I’ve always been of the belief that ‘less is more,’ and so I don’t go into minute detail when I write a sex scene. It’ll take me longer to write one because I have to show a lot without “showing” a lot, otherwise I won’t be happy with the result. I don’t mind reading the graphic minutia (probably should have mentioned above that I also like to read erotica, huh? Oops.), but I usually don’t write it the way I like to read it. I don’t want to gyp the reader who expects to see some love for their bucks, but I do like to make them use their imaginations. I’m not going to give them everything. Then again, it varies with each story. My debut novel has a few short love scenes but they’re tender, more romantic. This time around I’m writing a more mature H/H, plus there’s suspense and tension and the afore-mentioned villain. Who knows where they’ll take me? That’s the absolute, utter fun of writing.
Callie: Wow, Char, I can’t wait until you send me those chapters (she wipes her forehead).
It’s been so much fun having your here, and now for the blurb on Promises to Keep:
Annie Turner has lived in small-town Thompkin all of her life. Her family is poor, but she and her siblings have loving parents and a roof over their heads. As far as she’s concerned, she’s a lucky girl.
Travis Quincy’s ancestors founded Thompkin, deep in the Shenandoah Valley. He’s known immense wealth from birth, and for him that wealth is a part of his life that he’s never had to question.
While still in grade school, Annie and Travis meet and fall in love. Neither understands why they’re drawn to each other, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Like two halves of a whole, they’re only complete when they’re together. And nothing is more important than the vow they make to someday marry.
Growing up together, the rich, privileged boy and the girl from the wrong side of town find that when it comes to keeping their pledge, it’s easier said than done. Travis’s mother, Ruth, has plans for her son and they don’t include his marrying a Turner. Her painful and secret past gives her an unwanted connection to the Turner family and a reason to hate them all. With cold determination she sets out to destroy the bond between her son and Annie.
Love is magical at any age…and a promise is forever.
Char is offering a free copy of Promises to Keep to one lucky commenter! Also, you can check out her website here: http://char.chaffin.com
Char, thanks so much for being with us today. Best of luck with Promises to Keep, and I’m excited about your new story. We’ll be watching for it!