Want to know what I fantasize about?
It’s a dream for a lot of us unpublished authors--getting the call, the moment when a publisher tells me, she wants my work.
Today, it’s my great pleasure to introduce you to my critique partner, C. J. Burright. She’s a fantabulous writer, who is about to see her first novel published. Her official biography reads as follows—
C. J. Burright was born and raised in
Oregon and loved it so much she never left.
While she has worked for years in a law office, she chooses to avoid writing
legal thrillers and instead leans toward urban fantasy, paranormal romance,
or—since all things medieval and magic fascinate her—fantasy romance. A member
of Romance Writers of America and Secretary for the Fantasy, Futuristic &
Paranormal special interest chapter, C. J. also has her 4th Dan
Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and believes stories should always include a
gratuitous fight scene. In what spare time she has, she enjoys working out,
reading, gardening, and rooting on the Seattle Mariners with a nice glass of
wine. She shares a house with her husband, daughter, and a devoted herd of
That said, I've asked C. J. to tell us about herself and share her experience.
- Can you describe your experience getting the call?
Honestly, I was equally excited both to gain my agent (the amazing Brittany Booker) and later the contract with Swoon Romance. After a lot of refining in the fires of rejection, my writer’s armor repels most blades, so when I queried
Brittany and received a response that same
evening, I sighed and thought ‘fastest
rejection ever’. Instead, she asked for more pages. Woo-hoo! Then the
full…and three days later, I had myself an agent. To me, that was the first
step to feeling like a ‘real’ author – validation from a professional that
maybe my writing didn’t totally suck. Of course, just because an agent shows
you some love doesn’t mean a publisher will, so when the awesome Georgia
McBride from Swoon Romance made an offer for Wonderfully Wicked a few months
later, I was psyched beyond belief. It still doesn’t feel real.
- It’s very exciting that Wonderfully Wicked will soon be available for readers, but what are you working on now? Please share a little of your current work with us.
I can’t share an excerpt from Wonderfully Wicked (since edits are still in the works), but here’s a snippet from the sequel, Beautifully Burned:
“Who are you?” Ella’s voice trembled, and for the first time, she wished she had some mace on her keychain or a Beretta tucked in her waistband.
“Daxen v’al Solanis.” He watched her, unblinking.
“And V’alkara?” She swallowed hard. “What’s that?”
“Me.” His predatory smile made a snarling wolf look friendly. “Ready to talk now?”
“Talk, huh?” She straightened, keys gripped tight in her fist. Option two was looking better all the time. With a few alterations. “If that’s all you wanted, you could have chatted me up in the bar.”
“I wanted you alone.”
A fire bell warning clanged in her head, urging her to escape, yet she couldn’t peel her attention away from the line of his jaw. The start of stubble shadowed the hard angles, a darkness contrary to the pale skin of his throat. She had a sharp, nearly overwhelming urge to touch him there, to experience the disparity of prickly and smooth, to slide her fingers down the column of his throat to the ridge of his collarbone.
Ella blinked rapidly and gripped the keys in a death hold to stop her hands from acting without consent. What the…?
“Are you trying some hypnotic woo-woo on me?” She narrowed her eyes at him. “Not cool and so not happening. I don’t go around pawing strangers and I don’t have the energy for a one-on-one bartender counseling session. It’s freakin’ three in the morning, dude. I need to sleep, so take a hike. Final warning.”
He cocked his head and his eyes flashed with either amusement or something more intense, she couldn’t tell. His voice emerged whisper-soft. “Don’t you want help with your nightmares, Danyella?”
- Where can we find your book?
Wonderfully Wicked should be available soon for preorder on Amazon, but right now you can check it out on Goodreads (I won’t protest if you add it to your TBR list!) or at Swoon Romance’s website.
- How did you get started writing?
I grew up in twang-twang banjo land, miles from any city (two TV channels), so boredom played a huge part in my love for reading and writing. I have a great imagination because we were forced to entertain ourselves. Scary, I know.
- How do you generate ideas for your stories?
My weird mind. Dreams. A twisted and active imagination.
- What excites you about your current work in progress?
Daxen, the antihero in Beautifully Burned, is so damaged. I’m loving learning his story piece by grudging piece, and I’m fired up (pun!) to see how the heroine, Ella, will impact his tormented past.
- How did you come up with the title?
Lydon (antagonist) calls Kalila (protagonist) ‘wonderfully wicked’ after a particularly sneaky move – even though he’s definitely the one with the wicked vibe going on.
- What are you reading currently?
Once Burned by Jeanine Frost. I’ve heard ladies sighing over Vlad, so thought I’d get the experience for myself. Has nothing to do with Beautifully Burned. Total coincidence.
- Do you experience writer's block?
I’d call it more of a procrastination block – some days I have to force myself to write. Seeing it in my mind is so easy. Putting it on paper? Hard. Some days the words flow, others they don’t, but not writing isn’t an option.
- Do you write an outline before every book you write?
Ha! Never! I’m a plunger all the way, although I do force turning points on my characters. Otherwise, they tell me where to go.
- What books have most influenced your life most?
I’ll keep it to five, even though I could go on and on: The Bible, LOTR, The Magic Garden by Gene Stratton-Porter, From This Moment On by Lynn Kurland, and The Black Jewel trilogy by Anne Bishop.
- What advice would you give other unpublished authors who hope to interest your publishing house in their manuscript?
Find critique partners you can trust, and before sending out your manuscript, make sure it’s the best it can be. Check everything: pacing, tension, character arcs, the balance of dialogue, setting, introspection, and action. If you love it, someone else out there will too. Don’t give up.
there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
It’s never too late to start fresh, and redemption is never beyond reach.
Redemption is never beyond reach. Wow, what a great message. I want to thank Coleen for her candid and fun answers and you readers, who’ve stopped by. Consider leaving a comment or asking a question. We’d love to hear from you.