C.C. Cole is a writer from rural Mississippi. Schooled in medicine, she lives in the suburbs with her family and greyhounds. In addition to fictional writing, she studies world history and martial arts.
Act of Redemption is available for purchase here. This book is dedicated to Cole’s sister, Cindy, a victim of domestic violence.
Tell us a bit about your current project.
My name is C.C. Cole, and my recent publication is “Act of Redemption” First Book of the Gastar Series. It is the first of four stories.
We are all about journeys…unique ones at that. How convoluted was your path to your first published book? Share some highlights or lowlights from your path to publication.
My inspiration for fictional writing sprang from when my sister died suddenly in a domestic violence incident. Creativity proved to me to be an emotional outlet for a bad experience. I wrote and re-wrote the story through the years until the Gastar Series emerged. The high point would be bringing it all the way to publication; the input from my readers so far has been rewarding; and I’m hoping that sharing my experience with my sister raises awareness and helps others.
Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work, or struggle in a particular area such as writers block or angst driven head-banging against walls? Please share some helpful overcoming hints that you’ve discovered.
Yes. I certainly have learned to appreciate “writer’s block”. But I’ll tell you, like other writers have stated in the past; if you just sit down, clear your mind and write, the story “just falls out”. That may sound strange, but it’s true. It’s like I don’t know what will happen until I get into writing it.
What mistakes have you made while seeking publication? Or to narrow it down further what’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
It’s a tough business, no doubt. I went with self-publishing, after multiple “no’s” from at least eight to ten agents. It doesn’t help your story to blame the industry; I say just find what works for you and go with it. For a first time writer, my experience with self-publishing has been favorable. What I would say to other writers is to “Never underestimate the importance of professional editing,” meaning content and copy-editing.
What is your favorite source for finding story ideas?
I’m not sure if my memory is photographic, but events in the story I recall as “snapshots” I’ve seen in my life somewhere; be it in fiction/non-fiction books, movies, or life events. I use the images in my mind and write the story around them.
Have you ever had one of those awkward writer moments you’d like to share with us, the ones wherein you get “the look” from the normals? Example, you stand at a knife display at the sporting goods store and ask the clerk which would be the best to use to disembowel a six foot man…please do tell.
The most humorous experience after publication was a conversation with my big brother. He said, “It’s good.” (Very unusual, as older brothers sometimes don’t delay criticism) When I asked if he had any recommendations, or any changes should have been made, he said “No.” When I told him some people didn’t like it, he asked “Who?” When I told him he didn’t know these people, he said, “So, I don’t know them. What did they say?” I replied they just said the story was too much like Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), he said “They didn’t read it.” I asked how he knew, and he said “Your story doesn’t resemble Tolkien. Why are you going by opinions by people who didn’t read it?” Basically, that’s his way of saying, “Get over yourself, you wrote and published the story, embrace instead of bash your own work.”
With the clarity of experience what advice would you offer up to the wet-behind-the-ears you if beginning this writing journey today?
I’d say, “Just write what you know,” like many other writers say. Don’t let the hyper-competitive industry let you down. Stay off those writer-want-to-be blogs that bash everyone and everything about the industry; don’t let them discourage you.
What event/person has most changed you as a writer? How?
For sure, I have a lot of respect for all writers; this is not an easy task. At this point, it’s still “sinking in” that I’ve written something. When someone talks to me about the book, I think “That’s me? I wrote that book?”
What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why? (Doesn’t have to be one of your books or even published.)
I’m proudest of “Act of Redemption”, since it’s my first published piece. I’ve toyed with writing plays that are non-fiction. I’d like to wait and gain more life experience before publishing non-fictional writing.
Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?
Sure. It’s tough getting in. So competitive, and everyone says no, so the writer ends up blaming the work itself or writing skills. I can be depressing if you let it get it you.
Share a dream or something you’d love to accomplish through your writing career.
I believe “Act of Redemption” would do well as a graphic novel, animated movie, or action movie. I know many authors have that dream, but there’s nothing wrong with dreaming sometimes.
What gives you the greatest writer buzz, makes the trip worth the hassles (besides coffee or other substances, or course )?
I get the best buzz when I realize what will happen in the story. When I figured out how “Act of Redemption” would end, I danced all around my house at midnight on a Sunday. My husband thought I’d lost my mind.
What is one of the more unique or strange life experiences that has really given you an extra oomph in your writing?
Growing up in a rural area, there was not much to do when school was out. I had a lot of time to dream, draw, and write. I never took it seriously until the death of my sister, which moved me into “creative therapy”.
Describe your special or favorite writing spot.
My favorite spot to write is called Fort Hill at the National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I wrote my first words there on a laptop during lunch hour. It has a great view of the Mississippi River, and is a peaceful, romantic setting, even in daytime. I met several other people of all walks of life going there to relax, meditate, or just to take a break from the work day. I’ve since moved from that area, but I do miss it.
What aspect of writing was the most difficult for you to grasp/conquer? How did you overcome it?
I’m not sure any writer can overcome all obstacles. To me the hardest is really relaxing enough to allow the story to “fall out”. Once that happens, it falls into place. But getting to that point is a challenge.
What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?
Relax with my laptop and go into a new document in Microsoft Word. I also like to have on a TV program that inspires me creatively. It doesn’t need to be the same genre, but anything that brings out feelings of adventure and creativity. World War I documentaries are favorites and movies of all types inspire me as well.
Writing rituals. Do you have to sit somewhere specific, complete a certain number of words, leave something undone to trigger creativity for the next session? Some other quirk you’d like to share?
I usually write a piece of dialogue in a sitting. I like to read dialogue, so I like to write dialogue. Many days may go by before I’m ready to write the next piece. I never word count until the end.
Plot, seat of pants or combination?
“Seat of pants”, I think. Most of the time I don’t know the specifics of what will happen until I actually write it. That’s what makes it the most fun. Most of us don’t realize what we can do until we do it.
What is the most difficult part of pulling together a book? Ex. Do you have saggy middles, soggy characters, soupy plots during your first drafts…if so, how do you shape it up?
I would call it “less developed” characters instead of “soggy”. Non-major characters are challenging to write; as they need an appropriate amount of development, to keep them from having four or five characters with interchangeable dialogue. Also, as I stated above, editing is everything. I’ve learned not to have anyone read it without an edit.
Have you received a particularly memorable reader response or peer honor? Please share.
I very dear friend of mine is an accomplished author, and read “Act of Redemption”, even though it was about as far out of his genre as it gets. He emailed me, telling me “it was damned interesting”. I was quite proud that he finished it at all.
Have you discovered any successful marketing/promo ideas that you’d share with us?
Not yet. While I don’t want to exploit my sister’s death, I don’t mind people knowing it started me on this journey. After much discussion with my family, the consensus is “If it even helps a single person, it’s worth it.” I think my sister would agree.
Parting words? Anything you wish we would’ve asked because you’ve got the perfect answer?
For any writer, as so many say, write what you know. What’s in your heart will come out. Don’t be discouraged by this extremely competitive industry or by other discouraged writers. You are an individual. A lot of of “criticism” is simply preference for different genre; which doesn’t discredit what you do. Quit worrying about everyone else and make your story the way you want it to be.